International Journal of Middle East Studies

Islamic Practices in New Media

EXPERIMENTS IN DEVOTION ONLINE: THE YOUTUBE KHUṬBA

Charles Hirschkind c1

Abstract

This paper explores what I call “online experiments in ethical affect” through an analysis of one popular Islamic genre: the short video segments of Friday sermons (khuṭub, s. khuṭba) placed on the video-sharing website YouTube. In my discussion of this media form, I give particular attention to the kind of devotional discourse and ethical socius that is enacted online around these taped performances: notably, the practices of appending written comments to specific videos, offering responses to comments left by others or criticisms directed at either the preacher or other commentators, and the act of creating links between khuṭba pages and other web-based content. In examining these practices, I want to look at the way some of the norms of ethical and devotional comportment associated with the khuṭba in the mosque carry over to the Internet context of khuṭba listening/viewing while also engendering novel forms of pious interaction, argument, and listening.

(Online publication January 27 2012)

Correspondence

c1 Charles Hirschkind is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, Calif.; e-mail: chirschk@berkeley.edu

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