Religious Soundmap of the Global Midwest

A collaborative project of Michigan State and Ohio State Universities

Amy DeRogatis, Dept. of Religious Studies, Michigan State University

Isaac Weiner, Dept. of Comparative Studies, Ohio State University

The project was featured on MSU Today

What does religion in the Global Midwest sound like? Where should one go to hear it? How might we understand religious diversity in the global Midwest if we begin by listening? The Religious Soundmap Project invites broad public audiences to experience the religious diversity of the Midwest through sound. I and my co-PI Isaac Weiner at Ohio State University have assembled research teams to record auditory events with spiritual significance in Mid-Michigan and around Columbus, OH. Working under faculty supervision, student researchers at MSU and OSU will produce high-quality audio recordings of religion in practice. These recordings will be edited, archived, and integrated, along with interviews, visual images, explanatory texts, and interpretive essays, onto a publicly accessible online mapping platform. This innovative digital humanities project will provide new research and pedagogical tools for scholars, experiential learning opportunities for students, and an interactive resource for the general public.

Our aim is to think as expansively as possible about where and when religion happens and to work with local communities to identify sounds of spiritual significance. Our recordings might include “canonical” sounds like the Islamic call to prayer or Buddhist chanting, but they also might include the sounds of laughter or crying during a church service, of private prayer in a home, restaurant, or empty chapel, of seasonal festivals, special events, or noisy preaching in public parks, or even of ostensibly “secular” gatherings such as a school graduation, public arts festival, or football game. We do not mean to resolve definitively what counts as religious sound. Instead, we hope to invite new ways of thinking about religion in the global Midwest.

If you would like to participate in the Religious Soundmap Project of the Global Midwest, please contact Prof. Amy DeRogatis in the Department of Religious Studies at Michigan State University. Email: derogat1@msu.edu

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This project is supported by the Humanities Without Walls consortium, based at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Humanities Without Walls consortium is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.