Abstract

In their discussion of space in relation to gender, historians of women in the Middle East so far have focused primarily on physical and visual access. This paper argues that women’s acoustic space merits closer consideration, especially since acoustic methods of communication very often could and did exceed the limits of vision and visually bounded space. This argument is based on three different case studies concerning Ottoman royal women of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: (1) harem women’s auditory access to imperial council meetings; (2) common petitioners’ auditory access to the mother of the sultan as she traveled by carriage through the imperial capital during her frequent processions; and (3) Qur’anic recitation and prayers as commissioned by female mosque patrons. These case studies have more wide-ranging implications in that they allow for conceptual experimentation leading towards a refinement of the categories of private/public, male/female space, based on the permeability of acoustic space.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 89-111
Launched on MUSE
2014-03-20
Open Access
No
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