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Title: Resounding love for the Household of the Prophet : sound and mediation among Shi'i Muslims in Turkey
Author: Williamson Fa, Stefan John
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 5460
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis is a study of Twelver Shi'a Islam in the context of Azeri-Turkish Muslims living in the Anatolia-Caucasus borderlands of Northeastern Turkey. Taking the sonic as the central focus and field of enquiry I listen to the ways that sound mediates between bodies, both somatic and social, and the divine in the ritual and quotidian lives of Shi'i practitioners. I argue that sound, voice and listening, are central to the formation of both religious communities and subjects. Devotion to the Household of the Prophet - the Prophet Muhammad, his daughter Sayyida Fatima and the Twelve Imams, collectively known as the Ehli Beyt - is central to Shi'a Islam. Various genres of vocalised lament and praise for these figures are of particular importance in the acoustic worlds of Shi'i Muslims amongst other shared articulations including the recitation of the Qur'an. These sounded forms constitute a central way in which Muslims come to know and make present these divine figures in both ritual context and everyday life as they seek to cultivate love and attachment to them. Practices of reciting and listening are not fixed forms but are constantly evolving, especially as recording technology and new media are adopted and adapted. Furthermore, sound distinguishes and marks religious boundaries and the presence of Shi'a Islam in the public sphere. Drawing on ethnographic research undertaken over a 12-month period, I follow sounds, their producers and listeners in the city of Kars, Turkey, and across a larger Azeri-Turkish speaking geographic area - spanning Turkey, Iran, the Republic of Azerbaijan - and into their diaspora communities in Germany. By examining a range of sonic forms and events, such as public processions, ritual lamentation and the circulation of audiovisual recordings, I highlight the varied temporal, sensorial and material modalities of sounding and listening as well as the debates and discourse surrounding them. I set these sonic encounters against a backdrop of important shifts in Turkey's politico-religious landscape and global Shi'a Islam. I position the thesis in debates in the anthropology of religion on mediation and the senses. Attending to sound in everyday life, as well as ritual context, my project brings into focus various forms of experience, knowledge and discourse that have largely been ignored in the study of modern Muslim societies.
Supervisor: Mandel, R. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available