Sehwan's Noise Field: Of Women's Densities, Intensities, Entanglements, and Cacophonies

Sehwan's Noise Field: Of Women's Densities, Intensities, Entanglements, and Cacophonies

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

5:30 PM–7:00 PM
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In this Research and Academic Program lecture, Shundana Yusaf (University of Utah / The Kaleta A. Doolin Foundation Fellow) explores the dynamic exchange between listeners, sound, and space in the tomb of Lal Shabaz Marwandi. Located in Sehwan, Pakistan, the tomb of Lal Shahbaz Marwandi is the most cacophonous shrine in South Asia. Every night thousands of predominantly poor and orally educated supplicants gather in the courtyard outside the resonant dome to dance to deafening drums. Today, twice as many women participate as men. The deafening beat rings the listener’s entire body. It tinkles the ears, pounds the heart, and pulsates the limbs and head. The thumping and ecstatic movement puts some women in a trance. Others faint and burst into tears. This presentation describes the role of the dance and drumming in the restructuring of the shrine as a feminist crossroad. The exchange between the bodies, air, and walls traps the listener into a relationship between sound and space, similar to the diachronic nature of all gift economies. The interdependency between the agency of sound, space, and women is not lost on anyone and therefore zealously renewed, night after night, for almost 750 years.

Shundana Yusafشندانه یوسف is associate professor of architectural history and theory at the school of architecture at the Uni­versity of Utah in Salt Lake City. Her scholarship juxtaposes colonial and postcolonial history with sound studies in architecture, framing each as a force of globalization. She is the author of Broadcasting Buildings: Architecture on the Wireless, 1927-1945 (MIT Press, 2014), and the coordinator and primary author of SAH Archipedia Utah (University of Virginia Press, 2019). Together with Ole Fischer, she is the founding editor of Dialectic: A Journal of the School of Architecture at the University of Utah. At the Clark, she will complete the manuscript of her third book, The Resonant Tomb: A Feminist History of Sufi Shrines in Pakistan.

Presented in person in the Clark auditorium. This event is free with a reception in the Manton Research Center Reading Room starting at 5 pm. A recorded video of this lecture will be released on the Clark's Youtube channel on April 25.

Image: Participants gathered at the tomb of Lal Shabaz Marwandi in Sehwan, Pakistan. Photo by author.