The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics

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Overview

Charles Hirschkind's unique study explores how a popular Islamic media form—the cassette sermon—has profoundly transformed the political geography of the Middle East over the last three decades.

An essential aspect of what is now called the Islamic Revival, the cassette sermon has become omnipresent in most Middle Eastern cities, punctuating the daily routines of many men and women. Hirschkind shows how sermon tapes have provided one of the means by which Islamic ethical traditions have been recalibrated to a modern political and technological order—to its noise and forms of pleasure and boredom, but also to its political incitements and call for citizen participation. Contrary to the belief that Islamic cassette sermons are a tool of militant indoctrination, Hirschkind argues that sermon tapes serve as an instrument of ethical self-improvement and as a vehicle for honing the sensibilities and affects of pious living.

Focusing on Cairo's popular neighborhoods, Hirschkind highlights the pivotal role these tapes now play in an expanding arena of Islamic argumentation and debate—what he calls an "Islamic counterpublic." This emerging arena connects Islamic traditions of ethical discipline to practices of deliberation about the common good, the duties of Muslims as national citizens, and the challenges faced by diverse Muslim communities around the globe. The Ethical Soundscape is a brilliant analysis linking modern media practices of moral self-fashioning to the creation of increasingly powerful religious publics.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Anthropology.net

A very timely ethnography of Islam in general and Egypt in specific.

Arab Studies Journal
The relevance of this analytic project to readers both within and outside the academy cannot be underestimated.

— Ilan Pappe

International Journal of Middle East Studies

This stimulating book offers a sustained argument and excellent, accessible ethnography for specialists of Islamic politics and media alike.

Contemporary Islam
The Ethical Soundscape provides a timely update to this important genre of Muslim expression.

— Flagg Miller

Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute
Well worth the effort.

— Andre Singer

The Muslim World Book Review

This is a substantial anthropological study that delves deep into the meaning and significance of cassette sermons in the context of Islamic revival... This book is a welcome analytical study which should be of profit to many.

Arab Studies Journal - Ilan Pappe

The relevance of this analytic project to readers both within and outside the academy cannot be underestimated.

Contemporary Islam - Flagg Miller

The Ethical Soundscape provides a timely update to this important genre of Muslim expression.

Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute - Andre Singer

Well worth the effort.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231138192
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2009
  • Series: Cultures of History Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,344,856
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Hirschkind is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the coeditor, with David Scott, of Powers of the Secular Modern and has published numerous articles on religious practice, media technologies, and emergent forms of political community in the Middle East.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsNote on Transcription1. Introduction2. Islam, Nationalism, and Audition3. The Ethics of Listening4. Cassettes and Counterpublics5. Rhetorics of the Da&ayn;iya6. The Acoustics of Death7. EpilogueNotesWorks CitedIndex

Columbia University Press

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