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

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iii ethnographic soundscapes

III. Ethnographic Soundscapes

2. Islamic Soundscapes

slide2

Charles Hirschkind

Associate Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology at UC Berkeley

The Ethical Soundscape is his first single-authored book;

slide3

Awarded the 2007-2008 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: TalalAsad 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.

slide4

The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics:

“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)

slide5

“…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)

slide6

Islamic Cassette Sermons:

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

slide7

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)

slide8

Islamic Cassette Sermons:

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

slide9

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)

slide10

“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)

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Main Ideas and Research Questions:

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

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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

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Cassette Sermon Listening Practices:

The utility of sermon tapes

Attentive and in-attentive listening

Inshirah

Marcel Jousse’s concept of “gesticulations”

slide15

Comparative Analysis:

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

egyptian muslims listening to cassette sermons

European/American Walkman Users:

Egyptian Muslims Listening to Cassette Sermons:

egyptian muslims listening to cassette sermons mobile

European/American Walkman Users:

Mobile

Egyptian Muslims Listening to Cassette Sermons:

Mobile

egyptian muslims listening to cassette sermons mobile muslim

European/American Walkman Users:

Mobile

Secular (capitalist)

Egyptian Muslims Listening to Cassette Sermons:

Mobile

Muslim

egyptian muslims listening to cassette sermons mobile muslim ethical soundscape

European/American Walkman Users:

Mobile

Secular (capitalist)

Privatized soundscape

Egyptian Muslims Listening to Cassette Sermons:

Mobile

Muslim

Ethical soundscape

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European/American Walkman Users:

Mobile

Secular (capitalist)

Privatized soundscape

Aesthetic colonization

Egyptian Muslims Listening to Cassette Sermons:

Mobile

Muslim

Ethical soundscape

Orientalism, imperialism

inshirah jousse s notion of gesture to hear with the heart moral knowledge and action

Public invisibility -personal space defined as conceptual space

Inshirah– Jousse’s notion of gesture, “to hear with the heart,” moral knowledge and action

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Public invisibility -personal space defined as conceptual space

Both utopian and alienated, colonizing and colonized

Inshirah– Jousse’s notion of gesture, “to hear with the heart,” moral knowledge and action

Affect and action, devotion and entertainment

slide23

Public and Counterpublic:

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

slide24

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

slide25

Counterpublic

Subordinate groups vs. hegemonic discourse

Deliberation and discipline are interdependent

Cuts across state/society, public/private

Inhabited by the ethical listener

Public

Individual vs. state

Does not consider institutional or disciplinary conditions

Self-organizing

Rational speech

slide27

Define the Islamic concept of “Da’wa”

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

slide28

Cassette Da’wa:

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

slide29

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?

slide30

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?