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The Ethical Soundscape
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Charles Hirschkind's unique study explores how a popular Islamic media form& mdash;the cassette sermon& mdash;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.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Note on Transcription 1. Introduction 2. Islam, Nationalism, and Audition 3. The Ethics of Listening 4. Cassettes and Counterpublics 5. Rhetorics of the Da'iya 6. The Acoustics of Death 7. Epilogue Notes Works Cited Index

Promotional Information

An essential aspect of what is now called the Islamic Revival, the cassette sermon can be heard in most Middle Eastern cities, punctuating the daily routines of many men and women. Charles Hirschkind shows how these tapes provide the means by which Islamic ethical traditions recalibrate 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. Focusing on Cairo's popular neighborhoods, Hirschkind highlights the pivotal role sermon tapes now play in an expanding arena of Islamic argumentation and debate--what he calls an "Islamic counterpublic"--that 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 Muslim communities across the globe. Contrary to the belief that these cassettes are a tool of militant indoctrination, Hirschkind argues that sermon tapes are an instrument of ethical self-improvement and a vehicle for honing the affects of pious living.

About 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.

Reviews

"A very timely ethnography of Islam in general and Egypt in specific." -- Anthropology.net "A sensitive listener, Hirschkind writes in a way that conveys the inner life of counterpublics in Egypt...an indispensable book." -- William E. Connolly, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University, and author of Pluralism "The relevance of this analytic project to readers both within and outside the academy cannot be underestimated." -- Ilan Pappe, Arab Studies Journal

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