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The encounter that accompanies the spread of empire silences the voices of the colonized and missionized, making it difficult to make the historical narratives of empire audible. In this essay, Bohlman opens the space of imperial encounter by employing the methods and metaphors of triangulation, historically a tool enabling empire to expand but ethnographically a means of locating the unknown by assessing its relation to two known points. Bohlman opens moments of silence by listening to the imperial sounds of India under the British, military music during the American Civil War, the movement of folk songs across transnational geographies, the imperial politics of sacred sound from the rise of Islam to the present, and the acts of silencing migrants crossing the borders of the global empires of the twenty-first century.

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