Podcast by Cambridge Anthropology
Episode 23. The Recorded and the Live, by Timothy Cooper
With the arrival of home recording technology in the early 1980s, many Shi’i Muslims in Pakistan started to record the majlis mourning assemblies and processions that are central to their faith. Soon after, some established family-run religious media stores beside Muslim shrines or in Shi’a-majority neighbourhoods. In this episode, Dr Timothy Cooper (Research Fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology) examines the distinct sonic aesthetic of Shi’i religious media in Pakistan through interviews with his interlocutors in Lahore, as well as through extracts from their personal archives of Shi’i majlis assemblies, rituals, and recitations. He is joined by Karen Ruffle from the University of Toronto and Charles Hirschkind from the University of California, Berkeley, who help to put Shi’i relationships with sound in a wider geographic and disciplinary context.
This podcast forms the final part of a three-part multi-platform sound essay titled The Recorded and the Live that examines Shi’i faith, ritual, and recording media in Pakistan. It was produced through the support of an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Postdoctoral Fellowship (ES/V011669/1).
Part 1 is an ethnographic film titled This is a Majlis: A Sound Essay co-directed with Abeera Arif-Bashir that was screened at the 2021 Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival. https://festival.raifilm.org.uk/film/decolonising-the-archive-shorts-2/
Part 2 is an hour-long collection of laments and elegies from the collections of Shi’i media traders in Pakistan titled Recitations for Muharram and Ashura, broadcast and archived on NTS Radio. https://www.nts.live/shows/pirate-modernity/episodes/pirate-modernity-2nd-august-2021
Acknowledgements: My immense gratitude goes to Karen Ruffle, Charles Hirschkind, and Abeera Arif-Bashir for taking the time to work with me on this podcast, and to my interlocutors in Lahore, Muhammad Shehzad, Muhammad Ashiq, Ali Raza, Hurr Abbas, whose patience and intellectual generosity knows no bounds. The interviews featured in this podcast were conducted in Lahore between January and February 2020.
Episode 22. 30 years of German unity. Insights from fieldwork in Eastern Germany, by Laura Tradii
On the 9th of November 2019, Germany celebrated the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yet, the country appeared to be once more divided along political lines as the far-right party Alternative for Germany gained enormous success in the Eastern regions. Laura Tradii was on fieldwork in rural Brandenburg as the electoral campaign unfolded, and she discusses the debates that emerged around the failures and successes of the German Reunification.
Episode 21. An Interview with Max Bolt, by Kevin Yildirim and Javier Ruiz
In November 2019, Max Bolt came to the department of Social Anthropology at Cambridge to deliver the weekly senior seminar. Kevin Yildirim spoke with him beforehand to learn more about his recent work in Johannesburg, which concerns inheritance laws and custom in post-apartheid South Africa. The interview was recorded by Javier Ruiz.
Max Bolt is Reader in Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Birmingham. He is the author of the book Zimbabwe's Migrants and South Africa's Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence, published by Cambridge University Press in 2015.
Episode 20. Anthropology Beyond the Academy: Public Health
Alisi Mekatoa and Nina Fudge are health researchers. They came to Cambridge to speak about how their undergraduate anthropology degree has informed their careers in and outside of academia. They spoke with Sian Lazar about general practice and primary health care in the UK, and the role of anthropological approaches in health research.
Episode 19. Anthropology Beyond the Academy. Diplomacy
Gareth Ward visited Cambridge just before he began his appointment as British Ambassador to Vietnam. He spoke with David Sneath about how anthropology has informed his career in the diplomatic service.
(We are sorry that the recording quality of this interview is not as good as we would usually aim for.)
Episode 18. Circus Stories, by Laura Byng
Tropes of 'running away' abound in popular notions of the circus, but how true is this to the lived experiences of circus folk? In this episode of the podcast, Laura Byng uses interviews with different members of a contemporary UK circus to explore they ways in which they came to work in the circus, and, once there, why they stayed. What emerges is a varied set of relationships to the circus, but a shared passion for this way of life.
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