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Islamic Sounds and the Politics
Introduction by Jeanette S. Jouili and Annelies Moors
Volume 87, #4
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Islamic Sounds and the Politics
Islamic Sounds and the Politics of Listening
Jeanette Jouili, College of Charleston
Annelies Moors, University of Amsterdam
Brian Larkin, Barnard College, Columbia University
ABSTRACT—This article examines the religious use of loudspeakers on churches and mosques in Jos, Nigeria. It examines the medial form of the loudspeaker, how the medium technologizes urban space, and how urban residents generate cultural techniques of inattention to live with the sounds it produces. More precisely, I focus on how loudspeakers seek to compel attention by disbursing religious messages and how, in a city riven by religious conflict, residents cultivate practices of inattention in order to ameliorate the possibility of religious violence. [Keywords: Loudspeaker, Nigeria, Islam, attention, noise]
ABSTRACT—This article focuses on one aspect of Moroccan hip hop performance, rappers’ “stage talk” (Bealle 1993), to argue that performers and audiences co-construct a counterpublic with both discursive and affective powers through their responses to music and sound. I show that hip hop musicians’ stage talk simultaneously educates and disciplines the audience, providing models of “authentic” hip hop comportment while orienting the audience’s listening in a manner consistent with the position on music most prevalent among Moroccan Muslims. This article argues that learning through listening together enables practitioners to create a hip hop counterpublic that is at once ethical and open to wide variations in expressions of piety. In the context of spiritual and cultural traditions in which embodied listening does signiﬁcant ethical work, learning to participate in the discourse that performers’ stage talk invokes allows musicians and audience members alike to undertake the affective work necessary to form a counterpublic, however ephemeral, with its own comportment, expressions, and values. However, an analysis of live hip hop performances shows that the emergent hip hop counterpublic joins its structural critiques to personal responsibility, shifting the response to these issues from the terrain of the political to that of the personal. By casting solutions to these problems in ethical terms, hip hop performances invoke the rights of individual citizens, rather than political or class-based solidarities, as the locus of action, thus encouraging the audience member to take him- or herself as the terrain of change and improvement. [Keywords: Hip hop, neoliberalization, ethics, counterpublics, listening]
Calling Everyone to Pray: Pluralism, Secularism, and the Adhān
in Hamtramck, Michigan
Isaac A. Weiner, Ohio State University
ABSTRACT—This article critically interrogates the discourses of secularism and pluralism by analyzing their surprising effects in a 2003 dispute about the adhān (Islamic call to prayer) in Hamtramck, Michigan. Hamtramck residents advanced different understandings of how secular governance should manage religious differences, but their arguments had unintended consequences that ran counter to their stated intents. In the end, I argue, Muslims were able to make themselves heard in Hamtramck, but only if they muted that which made their voices distinct. This article uses the Hamtramck dispute to analyze the particular conditions governing Islamic entry into the American public sphere. [Keywords: Hamtramck, Muslims, call to prayer, secularism, pluralism, sound, public]
Jeanette S. Jouili, College of Charleston