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Sonic Geographies of Early Moravian Missions in Pennsylvania: Mapping Identity, Place, and Space in the past and present.

Authors: Mark Sciuchetti*, Jacksonville State University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Historical Geography
Keywords: geography of music, historical GIS, cultural geography, sonic ecologies
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The role of music in the construction and experience of the spatial dimensions of society has been explored in geography and through the frames of music scenes and soundscapes. In this paper, I discuss the intersectionality of sound, place, and cultural tourism using a GIS-based sound map of the eighteenth-century community of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (Revill, 2017). Maps offer spatial frameworks that elucidate placial meaning, and sound maps offer an even more effective and compelling way to explore the creation of place, re-sounding of historic acoustic environments, and cultural heritage through sound. The maps are embedded with field recordings and soundscape compositions, which have allowed us to demonstrate not only the historical Moravian soundscapes, but to explore how historical sound and music are reimagined and presented for tourists (Westerkamp, 2002; Connell and Gibson, 2005). I argue that the creation and development of place and identity within the context of the sonic and ecological environments of the historic community of Bethlehem has important implications for understanding the lived and affective qualities of place. The use of sound and music in tourism offers us one way to discover the musical pasts of place and how those sounds are used to represent the city and its history. Through the presentation of archival research, sound recordings, and participant observation, I hope to encourage a deeper exploration and understanding of the affective capacity of sound and its role in creating identity and meaning for individuals and communities, both past and present in historic Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

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