Charles Hirschkind

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Charles Hirschkind

Associate Professor |Sociocultural Anthropology
113 Kroeber
On Leave

Current/Future Courses

Special Interests

Religion, anthropology of the senses, media theory, language and performance, Islam and the Middle East.


My research interests concern religious practice, media technologies, and emergent forms of political community in the Middle East, North America, and Europe. I give particular attention to diverse configurations of the human sensorium, and the histories, ethics, and politics they make possible. Taking contemporary developments within the traditions of Islam as my primary focus, I have explored how various religious practices and institutions have been revised and renewed both by modern norms of social and political life, and by the styles of consumption and culture linked to global mass media practices. My first book, The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics (Columbia 2006), explores how a popular Islamic media form-the cassette sermon-has profoundly transformed the political geography of the Middle East over the last three decades. My more recent project is a study of the different ways in which Europe's Islamic past inhabits its present, unsettling contemporary efforts to secure Europe's Christian civilizational identity. Taking southern Spain as my focus, I explore the forms of history and memory that mediate and sustain an active relation to Europe's Islamic heritage, and the impact these forms have on the ethical and political possibilities of finding a place for Islam in Europe today.

Representative Publications

2016                      Granadan Reflections. Material Religion 12 (2): 209-232.

2016                      Introduction: New Media, New Publics? (with Maria D’Abreu and Carlo Caduff) Current Anthropology.

2016                      Prayer Machines: An Introduction. Material Religion 12 (1): 97-98.

        2015                      Religion. In Novak and Sakakeeny, eds. Keywords in Sound: Toward a Conceptual Lexicon. Raleigh, N.C.: Duke                                              University Press.

2014                      The Afterlife of Moorish Spain. In Nilufar Gole, ed. Islam and Public Controversy in Europe. Farnham, England:                                         Ashgate Press.

2012                      Interview with Alaa Abd al-Fattah, Tahrir Square, 12pm, July 19th. Anthropological Quarterly 85 (3): 917-926.

2012                      Experiments in Devotion Online: The YouTube Khutba. International Journal of Middle East Studies 44 (1): 5-21.

2012                      Beyond Secular and Religious: An Intellectual Genealogy of Tahrir Square. American Ethnologist 39 (1):49-52.

2012                      Interview with Talal Asad. Published in series, Pliegues de la Memoria 5, Casa Arabe-IEAM.

2011                    From the Blogosphere to the Street: Social Media and Egyptian Revolution. Oriente Moderno, XCI (1): 61-74.

2011                      Is There a Secular Body?  Cultural Anthropology 24 (6): 33-47.

2011                      Secularism: Introduction (co-written with Matthew Sherer). Cultural Anthropology 24 (6): 28.

2011                      Media, Mediation, Religion. Social Anthropology. 19 (1): 93-105.


Charles Hirschkind's unique study explores how a popular Islamic media form—the cassette sermon—has profoundly transformed the political geography of the Middle East over the last three decades.