The concept of a “Shi’i identity” seems like a given that many take for granted; Shi’i s are one of the two major sects of the modern Islamic era, and much of the literature defines Islam as a tree with two branches, one Sunni and one Shi’i. But such reductionism is not and never has been appropriate to the subject. On the contrary, the nature of Shi’i identity is difficult to define. That is, what is the connection, or the bond, that allows individuals scattered around different parts of the world to feel the same? Subsequently, does being Shi’i amount to an expression of a belief? Or is it a political claim? Is it an affiliation to a religious doctrine? Is it a denomination? Or a large demographic group somehow tied together? Or something else altogether?