Pathways to God: The Islamic Acoustics of Turkish Berlin
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CitationMcMurray, Peter. 2014. Pathways to God: The Islamic Acoustics of Turkish Berlin. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractIn fall of 1961, the Berlin Wall was erected and West Germany, the Bundesrepublik, initiated a guest worker program with Turkey. These two events would dramatically reshape Berlin, as many immigrants settled just west of the Berlin Wall--especially in the boroughs of Wedding, Kreuzberg, and Neukölln--transforming, augmenting, and adapting to local cultural life. Among these transformations, new sonic cultures emerged, with Islam, in all its diversity, playing a crucial role in that process. The Islamic acoustics that continues to thrive today in Berlin raises significant questions about the nature of sound in Islamic practice: How does Islam sound? In what ways does sound articulate and generate difference both between Muslims and non-Muslims, but also among different Muslim communities? How can an acoustics of Islam help elucidate the workings of a metropolis like Berlin, and vice-versa? Turning to Islamic thought as a theoretical framework, I consider how indigenous notions of pathways enunciate these sonic processes and their material manifestations. After sketching a brief sonic history of Turkish Berlin, I attempt to sonically map some of these Islamic pathways through the city. Charting a route through these major diasporic neighborhoods, I focus on a single religious community, or pathway, in each chapter, along with a particular material aspect of sound as a sacred articulation of difference. I begin with an exploration of the voice in Cerrahi Sufi zikr ceremonies in Wedding, where reciting God's names becomes an act of tasting (Chapter 1). Then in Kreuzberg, I consider the relationship of bodies (especially fingers) and instruments through the Alevi baglama, a musical instrument called "the stringed Qur'an" (Chapter 2). I continue to expand outward in the following two chapters, which examine mosques in Neukölln as sonic spaces: first, the interiors of a Caferi Shi`i mosque as they commemorate the deaths of martyrs; then, the exterior courtyard space of the Sunni Sehitlik mosque and cemetery. I conclude with a media archaeology of angels and a brief meditation on Islamic teachings about God's hearing, both of which suggest ways a more attentive listening to Islam might expand our conceptions of sound.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:13064989
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