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. Research teams have been assembled at MSU and OSU to record auditory events with spiritual significance in Mid-Michigan and around Columbus, OH. Working under faculty supervision, student researchers at MSU and OSU produce high-quality audio recordings of religion in practice. These recordings are 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. Recordings might include “canonical” sounds like the Islamic call to prayer, but they also might include the sounds 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.
Joshua Schnell // Rachel Rossow