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III. Ethnographic Soundscapes 2. Islamic Soundscapes.

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Presentation on theme: "III. Ethnographic Soundscapes 2. Islamic Soundscapes."— Presentation transcript:

1 III. Ethnographic Soundscapes 2. Islamic Soundscapes

2 Charles Hirschkind Associate Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology at UC Berkeley The Ethical Soundscape is his first single-authored book;

3 Awarded the Sharon Stephens First Book Prize from the American Ethnological Society and a Clifford Geertz Prize "Honorable Mention" from the Society for the Anthropology of Religion. Co-edited (with David Scott) Powers of the Secular Modern: Talal Asad and His Interlocutors, published by Stanford University Press in 2005 Currently working on his second book, focusing on Southern Spain. It is a study of the different ways in which Europe's Islamic past inhabits its present, unsettling contemporary efforts to secure Europe's Christian civilizational identity.

4 “This book is a study of a popular Islamic media form that has had a profound effect on the configuration of religion, politics, and community in the Middle East. As a key element in the technological scaffolding of what is call the Islamic Revival (al-Sahwa al-Islamiyya), the cassette sermon has become an omnipresent background of daily urban life in most Middle Eastern cities…” (p. 2) The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics:

5 “…the contribution of this aural media to shaping the contemporary moral and political landscape of the Middle East lies not simply in its capacity to disseminate ideas or instill religious ideologies but in its effect on the human sensorium, on the affects, sensibilities, and perceptual habits of its vast audience.” (p. 2)

6 Commonly associated with the militants and radical preachers “Bin Laden’s Low-Tech Weapon” A symbol of Islamic fanaticism The “media form par excellence” of Islamic fundamentalism The vast majority of taped sermons do not espouse a militant message Listening to cassette sermons is a common a valued activity for millions ordinary Muslims around the world Islamic Cassette Sermons:

7 Political commentary – directed against the nationalist project “…gives direction to a normative ethical project centered upon questions of social responsibility, pious comportment, and devotional practice.” (p. 5) Bears the imprint of popular entertainment media Three diverse strands are conjoined in these tapes: the political, the ethical, and the aesthetic. (p. 5)

8 Commonly associated with the militants and radical preachers “Bin Laden’s Low-Tech Weapon” A symbol of Islamic fanaticism The “media form par excellence” of Islamic fundamentalism The vast majority of taped sermons do not espouse a militant message Listening to cassette sermons is a common a valued activity for millions ordinary Muslims around the world Islamic Cassette Sermons:

9 Political commentary – directed against the nationalist project “…gives direction to a normative ethical project centered upon questions of social responsibility, pious comportment, and devotional practice.” (p. 5) Bears the imprint of popular entertainment media Three diverse strands are conjoined in these tapes: the political, the ethical, and the aesthetic. (p. 5)

10 “The sermons of well-known preachers spill into the street from loudspeakers in cafes, the shops of tailors and butchers, the workshops of mechanics and TV repairmen; they accompany passengers in taxis, minibuses, and most forms of public transportation; they resonate from behind the walls of apartment complexes, where men and women listen alone in the privacy of their homes after returning home from the factory, while doing housework, or together with acquaintances from schools or office, invited to hear the latest sermon from a favorite preacher. Outside most of the larger mosques, following Friday prayer, thriving tape markets are crowded with people looking for the latest sermon from one of Egypt’s well- known Khutaba’ or a hard-to-find tape from one of Jordan’s prominent mosque leaders.” (p. 7)

11 The practice of listening to such taped sermons - the colonialist / orientalist / modernist occularcentric view of Muslim oratorical practices Evolving rhetoric style and performance in the tapes The formation of an Islamic counterpublic Islamic soundscapes Main Ideas and Research Questions:

12 Modernity and the senses Part of a growing body of Anthropological literature focusing on the patterning of perception and sensory experience across different cultures and historical contexts

13 The utility of sermon tapes Attentive and in-attentive listening Inshirah Marcel Jousse’s concept of “gesticulations” Cassette Sermon Listening Practices:

14 Brian Massumi’s concept of “affect” Affect / action

15 Think of an everyday listening practice you engage in, and compare it to the cassette sermon listening practices of the Egyptian Muslims Hirschkind worked with Comparative Analysis:

16 Egyptian Muslims Listening to Cassette Sermons: European/American Walkman Users:

17 Egyptian Muslims Listening to Cassette Sermons: Mobile European/American Walkman Users: Mobile

18 Egyptian Muslims Listening to Cassette Sermons: Mobile Muslim European/American Walkman Users: Mobile Secular (capitalist)

19 Egyptian Muslims Listening to Cassette Sermons: Mobile Muslim Ethical soundscape European/American Walkman Users: Mobile Secular (capitalist) Privatized soundscape

20 Egyptian Muslims Listening to Cassette Sermons: Mobile Muslim Ethical soundscape Orientalism, imperialism European/American Walkman Users: Mobile Secular (capitalist) Privatized soundscape Aesthetic colonization

21 Inshirah – Jousse’s notion of gesture, “to hear with the heart,” moral knowledge and action Public invisibility - personal space defined as conceptual space

22 Inshirah – Jousse’s notion of gesture, “to hear with the heart,” moral knowledge and action Affect and action, devotion and entertainment Public invisibility - personal space defined as conceptual space Both utopian and alienated, colonizing and colonized

23 Public A tendency within liberal thought to view the individual as necessarily in conflict with the community Exclude any recognition of the institutional and disciplinary conditions that enable it Self-organizing Rational speech Public and Counterpublic:

24 Counterpublic Discursive arenas where subordinate groups articulate viewpoints, interests, and identities that stand opposed to the hegemonic discourses of bourgeois society (Nancy Fraser) Rests upon a conceptual edifice in which deliberation and discipline, or language and power, are regarded as thoroughly interdependent. Takes public deliberation as one of its modalities Cuts across the modern distinctions between state and society and between public and private Founded and inhabited by the ethical listener

25 Public Individual vs. state Does not consider institutional or disciplinary conditions Self-organizing Rational speech Counterpublic Subordinate groups vs. hegemonic discourse Deliberation and discipline are interdependent Cuts across state/society, public/private Inhabited by the ethical listener

26 Define the Islamic concept of “Da’wa”

27 Define Hirschkind’s concept of “Cassette Da’wa”

28 Unstructured and informal Situated outside boundaries of prescribed ritual practice or scholarly instruction A domain and discourse that stands in a disjunctive relationship to the public sphere of the nation and its media instruments Both normative and deliberative Globalized Cassette Da’wa:

29 Resulted in participants’ increased familiarity with bases and styles of Islamic argumentation Not a move towards liberalism Considered “noise” by secular and non- fundamentalist Muslim Egyptians Gender equality?

30 Resulted in participants’ increased familiarity with bases and styles of Islamic argumentation Not a move towards liberalism Considered “noise” by secular and non- fundamentalist Muslim Egyptians Gender equality?


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