Session/Séance 3a: CSTM Panel 1 Divergent Sounds of Muslimhood

Session/Séance 3a: CSTM Panel 1. Thursday/jeudi 25 May 2017 4:00-6:00PM, EJB 120
Divergent Sounds of Muslimhood
     Chair: JULIA BYL (University of Alberta) 


1. Of Sound and Dwelling Among Muslims in Toronto
     Alia O’Brien, University of Toronto

I discuss the lived experiences of several Muslim-identifying people who reside in Toronto, focusing on how ideas about sound and listening inform their decisions to dwell in certain sacred spaces. In particular, I trace the differently meaningful ways sounding practices unfold in two distinct – but connected – spaces where salaat (prayers) and zikr (remembrance) are regularly held, the first being a more orthodox Sufi masjid, and the second being a social justice oriented masjid. In the orthodox masjid, cognizance of nonhuman entities and agents, Allah, djinn (spirits), silsila (members of one’s spiritual lineage), and angels often overshadow a sort of liberal-humanistic consciousness, and this can be heard in the sonorous order-of-things. On the other hand, human agency, and therefore human agents, play a crucial role in the social justice oriented group, which functions as an arena for advocacy, the promotion of health and wellness, and connection with the divine.


2. Turkish State, Self-Legitimacy and the Orchestrated Assemblies
    Nil Basdurak, University of Toronto

The Justice and Development Party (JDP) of Turkey was elected in 2002 for the first time, promising to normalize Turkish democracy by embracing ethnic and political plurality along with encouraging Islamic values despite the constitutional secularism. It eventually became clear, however, that the Islamist ideology of the JDP outweighed the democratic promises that had helped it to gain wide support. In this paper, focusing on notions of democracy and assembly, I examine ways that sound and music have been strategically utilized by the Turkish government for its “self-legitimation” through “orchestrated enactments and media coverage” (Butler 2015) particularly after the failed military coup attempt in July 2016. Drawing from recent theorization of Islamic soundscapes (Hirschkind 2006; Eisenberg 2015) and cultural politics of legitimacy (Blad and Koçer 2012), I attempt to understand how sounding and listening practices create legitimacy focusing on state sponsored pro-democracy rallies after the coup attempt.


3. Beyond Sacred and Secular: Performing New Religiosities in Sh'iite Maddahi Rituals in Iran
      Hamidreza Salehyar, University of Toronto

The incorporation of popular music elements into Sh’iite maddahi rituals, inspired by the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein in 680 AD, has recently generated great controversy in Iran. While maddahi has become a powerful medium for promoting the state’s ideological agenda, maddahi performers sometimes adopt or even copy popular songs originally produced by exile pop stars. This paper focuses on the controversial adaptation of a well-known exilic popular song into a maddahi performance, examining how the maddahi performer employs and manipulates poetic and expressive strategies in the original song to offer a unique religious interpretation that allows greater latitude for variation in religious visions. Contradicting dominant discourses surrounding religiosity that position the sacred and secular in a mutually exclusive binary relationship, such rituals manifest new forms of religiosity that adhere neither to post-revolutionary Islamism nor Western secularism, signifying the emergence of new religious and secular configurations in Iran.


4. Kept in a Jewellery Box: Iranian Women in Canada, Narratives of Loss, Quests for Spirituality, and the Practice of Rare Listening
     Hadi Milanloo, University of Toronto

Drawing upon the fieldwork I conducted in 2014 in Newfoundland, I explore eight Iranian immigrant women’s everyday listening practices and ask how listening embodies their responses to the challenges of migration and displacement. I focus on the concept of “rare listening,” which I define as a personal and private ritual in which one listens to a song or piece of music, which is so emotionally and/or spiritually charged for them that they avoid listening to that song on normal occasions. Rare listening provides a unique insight into music’s relational capacity (Diamond 2007) and the ways in which it makes familial and/or social bonds even in moments that are most personal, private, and “anti-public” (Dueck 2013: 14). Finally, as a male researcher working with female interlocutors, I problematize my positionality, examine the role of gender dynamics, and propose strategies to subvert these dynamics which are inherent in all ethnographic enterprise.



Thursday Schedule | Programme - jeudi
(Session 3 | Séance 3)

MusCan Office

MusCan is led by a committed community of volunteers from across Canada. You can contact our secretariat by mail, phone, or email.

10 Morrow Avenue, Suite 202
Toronto, ON
M6R 2J1
office [AT]