Honourable Mention in the 2021 ICTM Best Book Prize
The award was granted to Sarah Weiss's book "Ritual Soundings: Women Performers and World Religions"
Sarah Weiss's book Ritual Soundings: Women Performers and World Religions (University of Illinois Press, 2019) was awarded with the Honourable Mention in the 2021 ICTM Best Book Prize.
This book documents ways in which women’s performance practices engage with and localize world religions while creating opportunities for women’s agency. This study draws on the rich resources of three disciplines: ethnomusicology, gendered studies of religion, and religious music studies. It is a meta-ethnography formed by comparisons between different ethnographic case studies. The book analyses women’s performances at religious events in cultural settings spread across the world to demonstrate the pivotal roles women can play in localizing the practice of world religions, exploring moments in which performance allows women the agency to move, however momentarily, beyond culturally determined boundaries while revealing patterns that suggest unsuspected similarities in widely divergent religious contexts. With the rise of religious fundamentalism and with world politics embroiled in debate about women’s bodies and their comportment in public, ethnomusicologists and other scholars must address questions of religion, gender, and their intersection. By reading deeply into, but also across, the ethnographic detail of multiple studies, this book reveals patterns of similarity between unrelated cultures. It invites ethnomusicologists back into comparative work, offering them encouragement to think across disciplinary boundaries and suggesting that they can actively work to counter the divisive rhetoric of religious exceptionalism by revealing the many ways in which religions and cultures are similar to one another.