Kholoud Al-Ajarma

Winner Dissertation Prize 2021

Mecca in Morocco. Articulations of the Muslim pilgrimage (Hajj) in Moroccan everyday life.

Supervisor: Prof. dr. M.W. Buitelaar
Co-supervisor: Dr. C. Wilde
Nomination: University of Groningen, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies

Report by the selection committee

This dissertation adopts a ‘360 degrees’ analysis of contemporary pilgrimages to Mecca from Morocco, researching it in various stages, from preparation, to the actual pilgrimage, to the aftermath. The dissertation is outstandingly well-written and very readable for non-specialists. It is also highly lucidly conceptualized. The thesis uses a convincing and rich combination of approaches within its anthropological grounding, with notions such as the sensory and the everyday particularly skilfully employed. The interview-based method is also beautifully explicated and used.

The author has a fascinating vantage point in relation to her subject, and the study is also well delineated methodologically. The book offers acute observations about different forms of identity (national, religious, and gender-related, notably) and their interaction, which also contributes to its cross-case and international significance. The jury was deeply impressed with this dissertation and is eager to see which topic this author will explore next.