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Department of Social Anthropology


Senior Research Seminar with Dr Peter McMurray (University of Cambridge)

(Not) Listening to the Qur'an: Islam, the Sensory Turn, and Deafness

In the past two decades, a number of scholars have taken interest in the centrality of sound in Islamic practices and theology, ranging from the recitation of the Qur'an to Sufi dhikr gatherings and from commemorations of the martyrs of Karbala to a global market for nasheed devotional songs. In my own work, I have often paired such research interests with sensory ethnographic practice--that is, using audiovisual media not only to document fieldwork but also to compose those recordings as a kind of ethnographic argument themselves. Yet these approaches also inadvertently reinscribe certain sensory normativities: audiences are (usually) expected to be able to see, hear, and (often) read. In this talk, I consider perspectives and practices of Muslims who are Deaf or hard of hearing, especially in the U.K., as a way of both better understanding contemporary Islam (especially in the United Kingdom) and recognizing the limits of sound-centric ethnography.

Friday, 29 January, 2021 - 16:15 to 18:00
Event location: 
Online - by email invitation