The social sciences have demonstrated, on more than one occasion, that people tend to be highly influenced by other people, especially those who are in (perceived) positions of authority. This is an important survival skill: as social animals, we pass down our knowledge and abilities from parent to child, teacher to student, mentor to mentee, and, of course, if we didn’t run when everyone else was running, we might respond too late to save ourselves from the oncoming threat.

Despite its obvious usefulness, conformity and specifically conformity to authority has caused some disturbing problems for humankind. The infamous Milgram experiments found that most of their test subjects continued to administer electric shocks to protesting recipients even in the face of their experiencing medical distress and eventually ceasing to respond. In the Nuremberg trials, Nazi soldiers who committed atrocious war crimes and crimes against humanity tested psychiatrically sound, and argued that they were simply following orders.


What does all of this have to do with writing? It must be recognized that the written word has authority, and an authority that has been driven home by years of studying textbooks, referencing encyclopedias, and reading news articles. There is the general assumption that in order to be published, authors must be 1) appropriately qualified, and 2) reasonable in their arguments and correct in the general information they present. This has never actually been the case, but today, when anyone can write an article or publish a book, it is glaringly apparent that the (perceived) authority of written works needs to be put in check.

Does this mean that certain mediums should be avoided? Absolutely not. Though there has been an influx of fake news circulating social media sites, no medium is devoid of bias, misinformation, over-simplification, or hyperbole. It is important that people engage critically with information regardless of the form it takes or the person it comes from. This means cross-referencing, fact checking, looking for bias, following the money, analyzing statistics, and arguing with articles even if you agree with them.

There is a general consensus among experts in conformity that blind obedience to authority is bad, and that disobedience is necessary in situations where those in command are in the wrong. But the world is not so simple as “these things are wrong, and these things are right.” We must disobey in order to know when to disobey. We must resist in order to know when to resist. Without initial indiscriminate challenge, criticism, disagreement and distrust, we risk complacency.

Is it exhausting to engage, at such an intense level, with everything you read and hear? Yes. Are there worse things than being tired? Yes. Absolutely.

rachaelRachael Heffernan recently completed a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies at the University of Alberta. In the course of her academic career, she has received the Harrison Prize in Religion and The Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship. During her undergraduate degree, Rachael was published twice in The Codex: Bishop University’s Journal of Philosophy, Religion, Classics, and Liberal Arts for her work on Hittite divination and magic and philosophy of religion. Rachael has also had the opportunity to participate in an archaeological dig in Israel, and has spoken at a conference on Secularism at the University of Alberta on the Christian nature of contemporary Western healthcare. Her wide-ranging interests in scholarship are complemented by her eclectic extra-curricular interests: she is a personal safety instructor and lifelong martial artist who has been recognized for her leadership with a Nepean Community Sports Hero Award. She is an enthusiastic reader, writer, and learner of all things, a tireless athlete, and a passionate teacher.

Mona Ismaeil is the think-tank behind a brand new podcast to hit the airwaves called The Modern Hijabi. Recently, she joined The Drawing Board’s owner and editor-in-chief, Nakita Valerio, to discuss this exciting new adventure and her plans for Muslimah activism and community-building in the future.

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Fast Facts:

Favourite Qur’anic Verse at the moment: A verse that governs my life and how I view life’s challenges and obstacles is: “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear” (Al Baqarah, 286). I’ve been through a number of obstacles from health related issues and doctors telling me I was infertile to having a spouse who’s work takes him away from our family for long periods of time.  I try to remind myself that this is all Allah’s plan for me and that I can handle it because he will never give me more than I can handle.

Woman from Islamic history you are “feeling” right now: I absolutely adore Khadija bint Khuwaylid (May Allah be pleased with her). She was the “Mother of the believers”. I admire that she was strong, confident, successful and devoted to her work, her community and most importantly her husband. She was the ideal Muslimah and an amazing example for all Muslimahs.

Women who professionally inspire you: I love to draw inspiration from my friends and sisters who I know very well. I feel that it is important to choose people to look up to and make our role models that are “real people”! I am not inspired by celebrities or generally high profile people because I feel that sometimes we end up chasing a dream or a life that is out of reach. When we look up to or draw inspiration from sisters around us we can help ourselves to have more realistic goals and judgments on our successes and accomplishments. So with that said, I have two friends and sisters in Islam whom inspire me professionally and they would be Nakita Valerio; Owner of The Drawing Board and Wedad Amiri; Owner of Afflatus Hijab.  They both are doing what they love, and not holding back. They are both taking their lives and careers by the horns and I respect that. Also, both sisters are taking what they love and finding a way to give back to the community and to be active in a humanitarian way. Furthermore, both sisters are striving to make the world better for women which excites me.  Each sister has her own direction, method and niche but in the end, the goal is the same.

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Can you tell us about yourself and your role with the podcast? What are you trying to accomplish by creating space for the modern hijabi’s voice?

I suppose it is important to tell you about Modern Hejab first as that is where The Modern Hijabi stemmed from. My husband and I opened Modern Hejab in 2010. My goal was not to sell millions of hijabs but it was more to make a connection with young Muslim girls. I just used Modern Hejab as a platform, a way in. I started to wear hijab at 23years old. I struggled with the decision for a long time and it really came from the fact that I could not find enough good role models to get me excited about wearing hijab.  The women I saw around me were too meek, reserved, frumpy, and just not who I wanted to be. At 23 I was somewhat vein and the idea of covering my big curly hair was just out of the question. And for what? Was it even worth it? I craved that connection with God and after some soul searching I realized, hijab would fill this hole in my spiritual heart. From the day I wore the hijab, I fell in love with it and everything about it. The way it looked and felt and everything, just made me sure I had made the right decision. I often wish I had worn it sooner but only Allah knows when the right time is.

From there I decided that I needed to help other young women struggling with that decision. I wanted to show to Muslims and Non- Muslims that hijab is beautiful and that there is a way to make if fun, fashionable and still true to the Deen.

Now, The Modern Hijabi. I am a teacher by profession and once a teacher, always a teacher. I wanted to use the Modern Hijabi to start conversations with Muslim sisters and even Non-Muslims about women and hijab. I wanted to use it as a platform for showing the beauty of Islam. I want to break down barriers and diminish stereotypes about Women and Islam. Even Muslim women have misconceptions about Islam believe it or not!  I want to create a space where sisters can come to learn about Hijab, Islam, Tips and Tricks for being a hijabi and general girl talk.

What do you mean by “modern” and “Hijabi”?

Hijabi is a term used to describe a women who dons the hijab (Islamic head covering). Now the “Modern” aspect of it is about taking a traditional practice and bringing it into the modern world. This can be difficult sometimes but it is about balance. It’s about following the latest trends while still remaining modest. It’s about being outgoing and enjoying life while still remembering the values and guidelines that we live by.

What are some of the subjects covered in your podcast series thus far?

My first podcast was about the Burkini Ban. Although it had already been overturned, I wanted to share my thoughts on the idea as that whole issue just blew my mind.

Next, I started a series called the “Journey to Hijab”. This series will cover 8 steps to starting to wear hijab. I had little guidance when I started wearing hijab as I think many sisters go through the same thing. I mean what is there to guide? Just put it on, and presto an instant hijabi! No! There is a process as it is a life changing choice and if rushed into, can have negative consequences. I know I am making it seem like a big thing but really when you take that step on your “journey”, you are changing your life forever. Through this series I want to help make the journey more meaningful, seamless and more enjoyable.

Can you give us a sneak peek into some future topics you will be exploring?

I will be sharing all things hijab. For example, styling tips, storage tips, my story of when I started wearing hijab and so much more hijab related topics. Also, I want to extend my podcasts to speak about different issues with women in Islam. I want to address stereotypes and misconceptions. Finally, I am a mom and the world of mothers is never boring! I will also be talking about parenting Muslim children and teaching our children about different Islamic topics including how to be proud of who they are as Muslims.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of podcasting?

Well, I am new to the podcasting world but so far it is being able to put out information to help others. I love that we can reach so many people so easily.

What are some of the most challenging aspects of podcasting?

Getting people to listen. I’m still learning how to convince people I have something important to say.

What led you to adopting this technological medium to get your voice out there?

As much as I love blogging, I felt that podcasting and speaking to people unedited felt more raw and authentic. I want to have a conversation. When I blog, I can edit and re-edit what I want to say, while with podcasting it is more natural. It’s like we’re sitting down to have a cup of coffee or for me a latte together.

How do you plan what you are going to do shows about?

I really look at what moves me and I try to go from there. Honestly, I do not plan that much. I think about the different points I wish to cover but I don’t write anything down. I don’t read from cue cards or notes. Like I said, I want it to be raw and authentic and natural.

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What do you like to do in your personal time?

As a stay-at-home mom, I spend the majority of my time with my two children; Manessa (3.5 years) and Malik (8 months). I love to take them out to parks, playgrounds, anywhere I can help them learn about the world. I also enjoy surrounding myself with strong and like-minded women who can fuel the different parts of my life. My husband and I love being fit and active so I go to the gym often and really work towards a healthy lifestyle. My family always has the travel bug and we’ve been blessed to see many places in the world. I love writing, blogging and speaking to people about Islam. I also love to learn about other cultures and religions. Finally I love spending time with my family and friends. They bring me so much joy and just make life worth living.

What is something not a lot of people know about you?

I trained as an amateur boxer for 5 years. I trained at Panther Gym (the greatest gym in Edmonton). I turned to boxing to help me through some tough times. The sport itself as well as the family I gained from being at Panther gym really made the obstacles I was facing much easier. Boxing gave me and outlet for my anger and frustration and the people there gave me so much love.  Although I no longer box, Panther Gym will always have a special place in my heart.

If your podcast had one take-home message for listeners, what would it be?

I think the specific messages will change with each segment depending on the topic but the general idea is that Women in Islam are more than what people think we are. We are more than we think we are. I want to show that Islam is a faith of love, respect, acceptance, peace and so much more.

To sign up for The Modern Hijabi, click here.

Tonight, a new friend came to visit me. She is the wife of a mentor and colleague of mine and I have been meaning to connect with her for awhile. Our visit was simple enough – talking over coffee and a platter of fruit while my daughter chattered away, excited about this new friend in our home. I watched as my daughter fed her grapes and placed a hand on her shoulder – simple, immediate intimacy with someone she had only just met. Our conversation was punctuated with finding my little one in hiding as she shrieked with delight from behind the cupboard.

I had been promising my daughter this visit all day, mentioning that this friend was coming over and that we would all go to the nearby park together, which we eventually did. While my kid made instant friends with another girl  on the slides, we talked about our experiences living in different places around the world – Morocco, Pakistan, the United States and Canada.

“What was it like living in America?” I asked. We both knew what this question meant without further elaboration. It meant, what was it like living as a veiled Muslim in America? It meant, had you experienced discrimination or violence there? It meant, did you live in fear there?

She told me about some of her experiences, narrowing in on the fact that Americans tell it like it is – for better or for worse – and that this is something she found surprisingly refreshing. People sometimes shouted out that they liked her clothes. Or they would smile at her out of nowhere.

“I think people have forgotten how to love one another,” she said. “Especially the Ummah” she added, referring to the global Muslim community.

“People don’t even compliment each other any more,” she added. “Something as simple as ‘you have beautiful eyes’,” she stated, nodding towards mine.

I hadn’t received a compliment in a very long time and didn’t even know how to react, but my body did. I had a huge smile plastered on my face and my heart lifted up for a minute. She was right. A compliment is something so simple and is, in itself a form of love, of uplifting one another just for its own sake.

How long had it been since I complimented someone?

I recalled a cartoon that had been making its way on social media – an image of a man and his son. He turns to another man wearing a hat and says “Nice hat!” When the hat-wearer smiles, the man turns to his son and says: “See? Look at his face change: Everyone can have magic powers!”

And it’s true. Heartfelt words are magical and they are powerful. They can disarm hostility and relax a hardened heart. They come unexpectedly and so they take us off-guard. We feel vulnerable because we are so used to being in defensive mode. We laugh it off as a reflex.

After she left, I decided to try out her simple strategy for social change and I started on my mother. It helped that she arrived within a few moments and she looked absolutely beautiful. I took the moment to compliment her on her shiny new eyeliner, noting that, in fact, her whole outfit was put-together and nice. She looked lovely.

“Ok….” She didn’t know what to say as a smile slowly crept onto her face.

“You look beautiful, Nanna,” my little one echoed, smiling as well.

The car filled with love as we drove away together.

One thing I have learned time and time again is that the most meaningful and lasting social change comes from the simplest of continuous interactions and compliments are yet another tool in our arsenal of tools aimed at compassion and acceptance.

I challenge everyone reading this to #complimentsomeone in our #drawingboardchallenge. Spend the next month making the conscious effort to compliment at least one person per day, whether or not you know them. That person might be you some days because, let’s face it, a whole lot of us are going a very long time without having anything nice to say about ourselves.

In a world that is becoming increasingly uncertain and where meaningful and purposeful interaction is diminishing, break down your fears and connect with others: no matter how far someone might feel to you, they are usually only a smile away.

images-for-gt-greek-mythology-backgrounds-powerpoint-greek-mythology-wallpaper-gods-alphabet-salad-recipe-yogurt-goddesses-islands-names-dressingIn the chapter entitled “Myth” in Guide to the Study of Religion, Russell McCutcheon outlines how there have been many definitions surrounding the term myth but that these can more or less be classified under the following two categories: widely shared (but false) beliefs, and fictional stories told to explain common (but mysterious) everyday occurrences. (190) These classifications of myth carry modernist judgments with them, assuming that there is a “reality-as-it-is” which myths are misrepresenting and, as a result of being simply incorrect, are relatively innocuous. However, as McCutcheon aptly points out, myth is much more suspicious than is first perceived and in fact, is in the business of manufacturing realities. It is not simply a fairy tale of old, but rather, a deliberate tool of dominant powers – “a master signifier that authorizes and reproduces a specific worldview.” (192) However, I want push this idea a little further by postulating that mythmaking is actually an innately human act; that there is no realities behind these realities; that mythmaking is not a method by which we interact with the world, but the method. That this results in the production of insular knowledge by which power is gained is provocative for its implications about human nature, whether or not power is the intended consequence of this process. By breaking down the process of mythmaking or storytelling, I will show that people cannot help but mythmake, and that the byproduct of this activity is power, authority and dominance through the dictating of a worldview. What future hypotheses about it must then address are the possible reasons for this power-fueling mechanism. Rather than sounding conspiratorial, I wish to end on an optimistic note by pursuing an avenue that McCutcheon left untouched – the work of Michel Foucault, who argued that economies of significance can lead to the development of the disciplines, on which mythmaking heavily relies, thereby consolidating power and making the mythology invisible and interior to the individual who then self-polices. However pessimistic this sounds, there is, within Foucauldian discourse, the possibility of shifting worldviews derived of competing mythologies. I will explore this possibility by meditating on the Foucauldian concept of freedom.

If we accept McCutcheon’s premise that myth is something ordinary, as a technique or strategy that is a process rather than a static noun, what is gained in our understanding about how and why people make myths? Firstly, myths are neither special nor sacred. Secondly, they are an ordinary rhetorical device freely used to legitimize one’s self image. (200) In a different way, McCutcheon has arrived at the same point as anthropologists Maurice Bloch and Harvey Whitehouse who use cognitive science to see myth or religiosity as ordinary activities of the human imagination and memory, respectively. Myths are a subset of storytelling which is a further subset of both imagination and memory. Neither of these, I would like to point out, are functions unique to mythmaking or religion but rather, in the words of Thomas Lawson in his essay called “Cognition,” “whatever it takes to explain how minds work generally will be sufficient to explain how religious minds work.” (Guide79)

Crafting stories, as it were, is something deeply human. I am not one to make universalizing statements lightly, but it is unlikely that we are able to imagine a way in which we do not automatically tell ourselves stories every minute of the day. Part of this hinges on a very broad definition of what a story is and is also grounded in how the mind functions. In writing the Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics and The Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant was one of the most prominent philosophers to point this out. Our faculties of sensibility are mired in space and time, and as such, we perceive things to happen in terms of cause-and-effect or sequentially. It might not be the way the world (or reality-as-it-is) actually works, but we can never have knowledge of this “true” reality. Thus, every reality is a reality-for-me, inherently subjective, finessed by a mind that necessarily operates in linear-temporal-spatial terms. We can have the perception of similarity or ascribe similarity to others, but the knowledge of true sameness is as unknowable as the elusive noumena. A lot of this likely has something to do with the overload of sensory stimuli which our brain is designed to filter down to the most essential points of reference and construct a story about from the first moment of perception. Even before we have formulated thoughts in terms of language, we are already developing a narrative about what is happening around us in order to comprehend it, in all of its diverse magnitude. These stories might vary according to our interpretation of it, but they remain stories all the same. (Guthrie 237) Things come to the fore, other things stay behind. Some memories are imprinted, others are not. Thus, storytelling and, by extension, mythmaking are things we just do. In this way, myth is no longer defined by the contents of its narrative, nor as a genre. As McCutcheon points out, myths are better understood “as a technique or strategy” (199), an “active process” to achieve some end, whether or not that end is fully foreseeable or conscious.[1]

What are myths in the business of doing? What ends are achieved by mythmaking? According to McCutcheon, with whom I am in agreement, myths are in the business of “making particular and contingent worldviews appear ubiquitous and absolute.” (205) Authority, dominance and power are obtained by dictating and maintaining a particular worldview through mythology because mythology implies the creation of knowledge, even if this process of creation is nearly invisible. Where McCutcheon does not go far enough is in theorizing about why striving for power through knowledge happens at all: is there some social, political or ultimately biological reason for this? Is power an evolutionary necessity for humankind? McCutcheon would have benefited greatly by taking his argument to its endpoint, something that could have been facilitated by engaging with the work of Foucault. I appreciate that this is a short essay on myth in general in a rather large volume; however, the implications of knowledge and world creation through mythologizing as a precursor to power are issues widely explored by Foucauldian followers and the conclusions they reach have major implications for how we understand and engage with religion as a concept, if we can at all.

If we accept that power (free from negative or positive connotations but denoting relationality) is derived from mythmaking and, by extension, world-building, there are two questions that are crucial for exploration: how does myth achieve this? And if the generation of power through myth is a necessary activity of humankind, where does freedom lay? If we follow a Foucauldian line of thinking, it would seem obvious that myth achieves power through the diffusion of disciplines throughout a particular society. In “Modes of Religiosity,” Harvey Whitehouse offers a similar process as that described by Foucault in Discipline and Punish but in cognitive science terms. In examining the doctrinal mode of religiosity, methods outlined of frequent repetition, the consolidation of authority in key figures, the tempering of that authority through the consensus of the mass – all reek of panopticonic disciplinary systems at work. In religious rituals specifically (how bodies move through particular places at particular times in carefully contrived ways) are designed to “reduce the chances that [followers] will reflect on the meaning of what they are doing.”(Whitehouse 300) When reflection does spontaneously occur, it is controlled by the doctrinal/disciplinary system that allows innovation only “ to originate from authoritative sources and is accepted/observed by all loyal followers”(301) – arguably those ascribing to, invested in, or indoctrinated by the particular worldview generated by a particular mythology which perpetuates itself as universal.

If, as established, mythmaking is the most natural human activity because of how perception works, then worldviews are continuously being generated by subjective agents. Grouping or collectivity can occur (at least the perception of it where the idea of similar interests prevail) and often does, but ultimately multiple worldviews are simultaneously being generated and contesting one another, each trying to assert its generative power above the others for fear of extinction or, in the jargon of Whitehouse, forgetting and the forfeit of authority. Where convergences occur and are accepted by a group, a collective worldview takes hold. If we follow the line of thinking of Michel de Certeau and understand belief to be transactional or reliant on the beliefs of others to guarantee our beliefs, then worldviews are nothing more than human myths accepted by the group because the group accepts it.(What We Do When We Believe) It would seem that the more people that buy into a belief, the more likely it is to become a collective worldview. However, historically speaking, the most successful campaigns for world-building need only to create the illusion of a community of belief before the believers ascribe to a certain system, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of the illusion. The terms used by Foucault are knowledge (which we can interchange with belief as it carries less ontological or empirical connotations) and power.

Knowledge linked to power, not only assumes the authority of ‘the truth’ but has the power to make itself true. All knowledge, once applied in the real world, has effects, and in that sense at least, ‘becomes true.’ Knowledge, once used to regulate the conduct of others, entails constraint, regulation and the disciplining of practice. Thus, ‘there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time, power relations. (Discipline and Punish, 27)

The most overt campaigns are recognizable as propaganda; the most effective are subsumed societally like the disciplines described by Foucault.

The question remains: How do we resist? What does freedom look like in a system of intersecting myths, beliefs, and worldviews? In Discipline and Punish, Foucault addresses the issue of cumulative power usurping freedom because of a feed-forward method, that “by being combined and generalized, they attained a level at which the formation of knowledge and the increase in power regularly reinforce one another in a circular process.” While some might call this repression (as the opposite of freedom), Foucault was careful to point out that the real danger of the system is not in being oppressed by the social order but being carefully fabricated in it. To resist this, it is crucial to remember what constitutes freedom for Foucault:

Freedom is an art, not a state, of not being governed quite so much. It is a practice that is never assured by the institutions and laws that intended to serve it… One will know that freedom is alive not when the interests emerging in society are allowed to express themselves, be represented and pursued, not even when dissent and heresy are allowed to manifest themselves, but when contestation, unruliness, intractability are not yet abolished. (Prozorov, 33)

In this way, freedom is not a state to be achieved through resistance; resistance is constitutive of freedom itself. If we return to Whitehouse’s Modes of Religiosity, the role of the imagistic mode is crucial to understanding this “biopower”. Whitehouse argues that high arousal is the antithesis to “autopilot” and induces spontaneous reflection – something carefully controlled by the doctrinal mode. Some might argue that the sustenance of high arousal at levels of high frequency is not possible through the natural brain mechanism of habituation. As Whitehouse ignores the possibility of this construction, naturally, I find it the most provocative. The high frequency, high arousal modes could be the perpetual, purposeful resistance of the imposed will of the doctrinal mode – habituation of which can be avoided by the sufficient use of change. It implies self-awareness and in this self-awareness, the deconstruction of the transactional beliefs by virtue of “lifting the curtain” , so to speak, on the transaction. What is revealed beneath the curtain are more curtains. Reality behind the curtain will never be found. It is in the perpetual lifting that freedom is found. Psychologically speaking, based on Whitehouse’s descriptions of the high arousal modes, it would seem that this level of arousal, experienced at high levels of frequency might look something like psychosis – fitting very well with Foucault’s meditations on the place of madness and divergent sexuality in the societal form.

As this reading analysis has gone far beyond the requirements, I will regrettably end there. As it stands, memory and narrative are the basic facets of human cognition and how we interact with and interpret the world around us. This results in the formation of beliefs and myths that rely on a transactional relationship with others to be self-perpetuating and world-building. Freedom is possible in the Foucauldian sense. What remains to be explored is the process of resistance or change through the senses and the body (Asad) and whether or not resistance is necessary. I am of the (perhaps premature) mindset that fabrication of the individual is not necessarily equal to causing harm, for where harm can be chosen, so too can benefit be chosen.

Referenced and Cited Sources

Bloch, Maurice. “Why Religion is Nothing Special but is Central,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (2008), 2055-2061.

de Certeau, Michel. “What We Do When we Believe.” On Signs. Ed. Marshall Blonsky. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985. Pp. 129-202.

Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish : The Birth of the Prison. Pantheon Books: New York. 1977.

Guthrie, Stewart Elliott. “Projection” in Guide to the Study of Religion. Willi Braun and Russell . McCutcheon, eds. Cassell: London. 2000.

Kant, Immanuel. Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. James Ellington, trans. Hackett Publishing, 2001.

Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. Particia Kitcher, ed. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers,1998.

Lawson, Thomas. “Cognition” Guide to the Study of Religion. Willi Braun and Russell . McCutcheon, eds. Cassell: London. 2000.

McCutcheon, Russell. “Myth” in Guide to the Study of Religion. Willi Braun and Russell . McCutcheon, eds. Cassell: London. 2000.

Prozorov, Sergei. Foucault, Freedom and Sovereignty. Ashgate Publishing Ltd. 2007.

Whitehouse, Harvey. “Modes of Religiosity: Towards a Cognitive Explanation of the Sociopolitical Dynamics of Religion,” Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 14 (2002), 293-315.

[1] Much multidisciplinary, academic literature has described memory (the stuff which myths and narratives are made of) as called upon to provide a usable past (Zamora), as inherently contested because of the subjectivity of perception(Confino, Calhoun), as a habit related to societal hierarchies and the maintenance of power (Connerton), and as an instrument (Lowenthal). The relationship between individual, collective memory and narrative construction are so closely intertwined as to be virtually indecipherable. Scholars who argue for understanding narrative as a basic tool of human consciousness include Bruner, White, Scholes and Kellogg, Schafer, and Ricouer. Alasdiar MacIntyre is another source which argues for the omnipresence and importance of narrative in human activity. James Wertsch has famously written: “we are storytelling animals.” (Voices of Collective Remembering, 2002)