What does religion in the United States sound like? This was the question at the heart of the American Religious Sounds Project (ARSP), a collaborative research initiative that was active from 2014-2022. The ARSP was co-directed by Amy DeRogatis of Michigan State University and Isaac Weiner of The Ohio State University. It aimed to offer new resources for documenting and interpreting the diversity of American religious life by attending to its varied sonic cultures.
The ARSP encompassed a number of interrelated initiatives, including:
- The construction of a digital sonic archive, documenting the diversity of everyday religious life through originally produced field recordings, interviews, and related materials
- The development of a digital platform and website, which draws on materials in the ARSP archive to engage users in telling new stories about religious diversity in the United States
- The curation of online and in-person exhibits and installations about religious sound in the United States
- The support of innovative research and teaching at the intersection of religious and sound studies
The full ARSP archive is housed at the Vincent Voice Library at Michigan State University.
The ARSP website is intended for multiple audiences. For scholars, we hope it will serve as a suggestive tool for research and as a platform for presenting your own interpretive work. For educators and students, we hope to offer valuable pedagogical resources that can be integrated directly into the classroom. For the media, we hope our materials will inform the stories you tell about religion in the United States. And for all audiences, we hope our site will educate you, engage you, and inspire you to think in new ways about religion and its place in American life. As you spend time exploring our site, we invite you to consider: How does our understanding of religion change when we begin by listening for it?
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The American Religious Sounds Project was supported by a generous grant to Ohio State University's Center for the Study of Religion from the Henry Luce Foundation. Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities. Other support was provided by the Humanities Without Walls Consortium, based at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Material support was also provided by Michigan State University and The Ohio State University.