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5th April, 2023

Research Seminar in Music: Touching Tasting Hearing? Sensory Ethnographies of Sufism

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Event Details

5th April, 2023
17:00 - 18:30
Room AG09, College building

Speaker: Dr Peter McMurray


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.

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