Call for Papers
AAA, Nov. 20-24 2013, Chicago
Vision, Visuality and Visual Culture: Islamic Contexts and Publics
This panel recuperates an understanding of visuality beyond Western histories by ethnographically exploring visual culture as a key site for thinking out the different trajectories of religion in contemporary Muslim societies. With Christianity usually posited as a *”visual” religion and Islam as an “auditory”; one, most scholarly works looking at the intersections of visuality and religion have done so in a (Western) Christian context. In keeping with the AAA’s interdisciplinary emphasis this year, this panel puts into conversation anthropological studies of how the materiality of different media contributes to religious formations at particular historical moments with the interest of other scholars of visual culture in everyday, socially-grounded practices of seeing. We hope that attending more closely to visual fields in Muslim societies will contribute theoretically to long-standing disciplinary concerns with ritual, personhood, performance and the sacred.
What modes of (not) seeing are privileged or denounced within historically authoritative Islamic frames? How are different notions of visuality negotiated and/or contested in the age of rapid transnational television imports and exports? What do jurisprudential and popular debates over the production of dramatic serials visually depicting Qur’anic prophets tell us about the politics and ethics of sight? What visual analogies and metaphors do Islamic preachers and activists draw upon to connect with their imagined audiences? What new scopic regimes arise at the interface of new media technologies and Islamic exhortatory traditions? How is the faculty of seeing a site of ethical cultivation, affective pleasure or sensory excess? We invite papers addressing these questions through ethnographies and analyses of the production, circulation, consumption and framing of the
visual in Muslim societies.