The Ethical Soundscape

Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics

Charles Hirschkind

Columbia University Press

The Ethical Soundscape

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Pub Date: July 2009

ISBN: 9780231138192

288 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£24.95

Pub Date: October 2006

ISBN: 9780231138185

288 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£74.95

Pub Date: October 2006

ISBN: 9780231510882

288 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£24.95

The Ethical Soundscape

Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics

Charles Hirschkind

Columbia University Press

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.
A very timely ethnography of Islam in general and Egypt in specific. Anthropology.net
The relevance of this analytic project to readers both within and outside the academy cannot be underestimated. Ilan Pappe, Arab Studies Journal
This stimulating book offers a sustained argument and excellent, accessible ethnography for specialists of Islamic politics and media alike. International Journal of Middle East Studies
The Ethical Soundscape provides a timely update to this important genre of Muslim expression. Flagg Miller, Contemporary Islam
Well worth the effort. Andre Singer, Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute
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. The Muslim World Book Review
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
Web Features

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.