Tomal Hossain

Tomal Hossain Headshot
Cohort Year: 2019
Advisor(s): Anna Schultz
Research Interests: Anthropology of religion, sacred sound, mobility, minority studies, voice studies, digital humanities, the Middle East and South Asia.


Overall, my research concerns the origins and status of music in Islam and the cultures of music production and consumption in Muslim-majority countries and their diasporas. In Summer 2014, I conducted a small-scale ethnography of traditional Bengali music practitioners in the Bangladeshi-Los Angelino community, the presentation of which factored into a performance of mine at the 28th annual cultural convention of the Federation of Bangladeshi Associations in North America (FOBANA) held in Los Angeles that summer. In Spring 2016, I further pursued the topic of music as a means for building group solidarity and soliciting feelings of home and nation among the Afghan-Austrian diaspora in Vienna. Between August 2017 and 2018, I investigated issues of permissibilty vis a vis the performing arts in Islam among performing artists and Islamic scholars in seven Muslim majority countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Morocco). Between August 2019 and 2020, I explored the dhikr and sama’ sessions of various Sufi groups in New York City including those of the Jerrahi, Naqshbandi, and Inayati orders. Currently, I have turned my attention to the music of Rohingya refugees in Chicago and the phenomenon of Sufi-adjacency as manifested in sonic performance. Within the purview of such research topics, my writings explore issues in migrant, minority, voice, and postcolonial studies and generally reflect a keen investment in creative expression that straddles or transcends cultural, national, and/or religious boundaries. Beyond my academic pursuits, I perform a number of raga and raga-based musics including khayal and Nazrul sangeet and to a lesser extent al-musiqa al-’arabiya, jazz, and karawitan jawa tengah.