Szanto’s study examines a collection of Twelver Shi’i children’s books from the Syrian shrine-town of Sayyida Zaynab. As there are few Twelver Shi’is and Shi’i publishers in Syria, the Shi’i children’s books are imported from Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran. As a result, they reflect both local and regional conceptions and concerns. By drawing on the theoretical models offered by Judith Butler and Saba Mahmood, this article analyzes the processes of pious subject cultivation as well as the construction of religious authority through illustrated children’s books. It demonstrates how the nurturing of Shi’i subjects occurs in stages that emphasize affect, openness to authoritative others, and the acquisition and habituation of virtues. Within this general framework, there also exist differences in opinion with respect to precisely what kind of authorities pious Shi’is should relate to, emulate, and follow.

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