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12th October, 2022

Touching Tasting Hearing? Sensory Ethnographies of Sufism

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Event Details

12th October, 2022
17:00 - 18:30
280 St John St
London EC1V 0HB

For over a century, audiovisual media have played an important role in ethnographic research. While often used as a kind of illustration for a scholarly argument (e.g., a set of audio recordings as musical examples accompanying a book), these media offer other possibilities for ‘writing’ ethnography.

In this talk, I share audiovisual work that explores such possibilities (and their limits), focusing on Sufism as a set of practices and modes of living that centre bodily engagement with the divine, whether through formalised rituals such as dhikr (recitations of divine names) or more casual activities such as going on holiday together.

Gesturing toward Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s notion of ’touching feeling’, I turn to audiovisual media as a way of exploring some of the embodied, multisensory intensities of Sufism. I also consider the limitations of any ethnography, whether ‘sensory’ or otherwise, in adequately representing such practices to others.

About the speaker

Peter McMurray is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at University of Cambridge, where he is also a fellow at Queens’ College.

His work focuses on the intersection of sound and Islam in Turkey and its diasporas, as well as the Ottoman Empire.

He is also interested in audiovisual media, both as an object of research and an ethnographic medium.

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