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Sound, Space, Politics

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Organizers: Luke Leavitt
Chairs: Luke Leavitt


This session explores the geographies of sound. Sound is ubiquitous in shaping daily life, embodied experience, public and private space, and imaginaries about people and places (Born 2013). Sound also helps configure non-human life processes and impacts certain inorganic flows. Sound is used for production and methods of extraction (e.g. emitting and reading seismic vibrations for oil extraction), facilitating metabolic flows of capital between "nature" and "society." Sound can also be used for torture and warfare (Goodman 2010). It also engenders subjectivities, often along hierarchies of class, gender, sexuality, nation, ability and more (Stoever 2016, Revill 2000). At the same time, it can denaturalize grids of power, often through creative practices, musical or not (McKittrick 2016, Moten 2017, Tausig 2018), and create affective solidarities beyond utterance between people, places, systems and species (Kanngieser 2015). With its own particular richness, sound helps create worlds in layered and often contrasting and contentious ways. Given sound’s importance and the variety of its influence on space, an increasing number of geographers have begun to pursue sound empirically, theoretically and methodologically. This session attends to sound as something that shapes space, and vice versa, with its own particular properties, paying particular attention to the political ramifications of sound geography. It likewise highlights papers that embrace sound as a mode of inquiry (e.g. listening), as a research method (Gallagher and Prior 2014), and/or as a way to communicate research findings.

Born, Georgina, ed. 2013. Music, Sound and Space: Transformations of Public and Private Experience. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gallagher, Michael, and Jonathan Prior. 2014. “Sonic Geographies: Exploring Phonographic Methods.” Progress in Human Geography 38 (2): 267–84.

Goodman, Steve. 2010. Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear. Technologies of Lived Abstraction. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Kanngieser, Anja. 2015. “Geopolitics and the Anthropocene: Five Propositions for Sound.” GeoHumanities 1 (1): 80–85.

McKittrick, Katherine. 2016. “Rebellion/Invention/Groove.” Small Axe 20 (1 49): 79–91.

Moten, Fred. 2017. Black and Blur. Consent Not to Be a Single Being, v. [1]. Durham ; London: Duke University Press.

Revill, George. 2000. “Music and the Politics of Sound: Nationalism, Citizenship, and Auditory Space.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 18 (5): 597–613.

Stoever, Jennifer Lynn. 2016. The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening. Postmillennial Pop. New York: New York University Press.

Tausig, Benjamin. 2018. “Sound and Movement.” Social Text 36 (3): 25–45.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Luke Leavitt*, University of Wisconsin - Madison, How can music composition be deployed as geographical research? 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Damien Masson*, Université de Cergy-Pontoise. Laboratoire MRTE, Pianos in public space: Atmospheric powers of a sonic object 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Wen Lin*, Newcastle University, Recording and sharing urban sounds in the Web 2.0 age 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Shaundra Cunningham*, University of Tennessee, "If I Can't Say a Word, I'll Just Wave my Hands": Exploring a Womanist Geography of Sermons 15 12:00 AM

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