Abstract and Keywords
Since the beginning of the twentieth century and the establishment of the modern Turkish Republic, the Islamic call to prayer in Turkey has occupied a controversial space, sonically and culturally. Early on, the new Republic attempted to “Turkicize” the call by legally mandating Turkish language recitation, a practice that was maintained for nearly twenty years despite strong popular opposition. Although this particular practice ended in 1950, the call to prayer has continued to engender controversy. One of the more recent debates has grown out of the practice of centralization. Call to prayer centralization refers to broadcasting one muezzin, or caller, from one mosque to other area mosques in an effort to diminish “cacophony” and regulate the sound quality, ostensibly to beautify the call and make it more clearly audible. Although the goals of the centralization program have been to improve the sound quality and distribution of the call, opponents of the program have voiced concerns. Such concerns include the loss of mosque “personalities” and the possible substitution of recordings for live recitation, an especially worrisome prospect in the context of a religious practice that considers live human recitation a direct conduit to the divine. This chapter examines the early twenty-first-century history of centralization and how its implementation fits into the continuing dialogue on the public declaration of faith in the context of a politically secular republic, thus contributing to studies on the use and mediation of public sonic space.
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