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
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.
Subjects: History, Anthropology
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