Remapping Sound Studies

Gavin Steingo and Jim Sykes Princeton University and University of Pennsylvania
Abstract: This paper summarizes work presented in the Humanities Futures event Remapping Sound Studies: A Turn to the Global South and published in more detail in Remapping Sound Studies, a book that begins the work of reorienting sound studies toward the global South. The authors argue that this project necessitates asking different sorts of questions than have been typically asked in sound studies, and they contend that this change will in turn require broadening the purview of sound studies because it will challenge some of the field’s central presuppositions. Remapping Sound Studies makes three affirmative proposals for a remapping of sound studies related to the following: (1) sound’s relationship to technology; (2) the question of sound as a relationship between listener and something listened to; and (3) a conceptualization of sonic history as nonlinear and saturated with friction. These proposals suggest that sound studies can actively participate in decolonization as an affirmative gesture and not simply as critique.


In the past decade, "sound studies" emerged as a major field of inquiry in the social sciences and humanities. Understood as an important theoretical alternative to visual studies of media and society, sound studies has unearthed repressed histories of sound and listening, while situating the ear as a major instrument in the production of social, cultural, and scientific knowledge. The initially diffuse explosion of research into sound has begun, in the past few years, to concatenate into a disciplinary configuration—and like all disciplines, this one privileges certain methodologies, theories, and sites over others. With a few exceptions notwithstanding (e.g., Hirschkind 2006; Morris 2008; Ochoa 2006, 2014), little research in sound studies has been conducted in the global South.[1] This lacuna is partially attributable to the fact that the sound studies boom has come largely from those working on the historical development of sound reproduction technologies, and as such, an emphasis has been placed on histories of technological innovation and progress. This emphasis is closely associated with a certain homogenization of the listening subject (in much recent work he or she is white and middle class) and a tendency to flatten the sonic architecture of urban spaces, which are rendered simply as "global cities" or "the city."[2]

Understood as an important theoretical alternative to visual studies of media and society, sound studies has unearthed repressed histories of sound and listening, while situating the ear as a major instrument in the production of social, cultural, and scientific knowledge.

To be clear, the sonic turn of the past decade has produced much of enduring value—a point we wish to emphasize. Thanks to the efforts of what was at first just a handful of scholars scattered throughout the subdisciplines of science and technology studies, sound studies quickly rose to widespread acclaim because it provided thought-provoking and innovative ways to rethink large and fundamental questions concerning modernity, rationality, knowledge, and experience. At the turn of the twenty-first century, important studies appeared on topics such as technological modernity (Sterne 2003, 2012), architectural acoustics (Thompson 2002), and histories of hearing, listening, and aurality (Erlmann 2004, 2010; Szendy 2007), to name just some of the more celebrated examples. These allowed for the useful recognition and claiming of disciplinary ancestors whose work had been recognized but had always appeared somewhat marginal to their respective disciplines (e.g., Attali 1986; Schafer 1977; Born 1995). Simultaneously, new vistas opened up for fields as disparate as the anthropology of the senses, the sociology of science, ethnomusicology, and aesthetics, leading to the further articulation of subfields (such as "ecomusicology") and the creation of research projects that could not have been glimpsed a decade prior (a good example is Friedner and Helmreich’s 2012 article, "Sound Studies Meets Deaf Studies").

The first wave of sound studies produced narratives on the history of sound in modernity told from largely Northern-centric perspectives. The neglect of the global South in sound studies, and of Africa and Asia in particular, is striking.

Such innovation and influence does not, however, change the fact that the first wave of sound studies produced narratives on the history of sound in modernity told from largely Northern-centric perspectives. The neglect of the global South in sound studies, and of Africa and Asia in particular, is striking. Routledge’s four-volume Sound Studies anthology—comprising 72 chapters and more than 1,500 pages (Bull 2013)—does not contain a single chapter on Africa or Asia (which together form over half of the world’s landmass and currently comprise well over 100 sovereign nation-states). The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies (Pinch and Bijsterveld 2011) contains 23 chapters on topics ranging from Pixar and birdsong to cochlear implants and iPod culture, but Africa and Asia are absent there as well. The earlier edited collection, Hearing Cultures (Erlmann 2004), is also North-centric, the lone exception being Charles Hirschkind’s chapter on Egypt. Georgina Born’s recent edited volume, Music, Sound and Space (2013), includes just one chapter set outside Euro-America (Andrew Eisenberg’s chapter on Kenya). And Routledge’s single-volume Sound Studies Reader (Sterne 2012a) fares just slightly better: of its 45 chapters, there is just one on southern Africa (by Louise Meintjes) and two on North Africa (one by Hirschkind and an early text by Franz Fanon).

Of course, anthropologists have long showed attention toward sound in the global South, but their work is seldom situated within sound studies per se. Work by Bessire and Fisher (2012), Chandola (2012, 2014), Eisenlohr (2009, 2010), Feld (2012), Hirschkind (2006), Morris (2008), and Ochoa (2006, 2014), suggests a far broader terrain of sonic investigation than the recent consolidation of knowledge in sound studies would have us believe.[3] Steven Feld’s work on acoustemology ("the potential of acoustic knowing"; Feld 1996, 97) presents a potentially crucial opportunity to radically decenter sound studies, as well as to create articulations between sound studies, anthropology, and media studies—but his work is surprisingly absent in sound studies readers and anthologies.[4]

Ethnomusicological engagements with cultural differences in theorizing sound, such as differences in belief about what sound is as well as how it relates to, say, conceptions of personhood, the body, public space, and power, have yet to be fully incorporated into sound studies.

While acoustemology remains a central concern among ethnomusicologists (Daughtry 2015; Eisenberg 2013), confusion reigns in ethnomusicology about its disciplinary figuration in relation to sound studies: conversations in ethnomusicology circles have ranged from suggesting that sound studies should be positioned as a subfield of ethnomusicology to the claim that sound studies should be kept far apart from ethnomusicology as an interdisciplinary cousin.[5] Though ethnomusicologists are now attending to sound studies, there has yet to be a collective statement on the discipline from ethnomusicologists—particularly one that harnesses fieldwork in the global South to question dominant presuppositions. This means that ethnomusicological engagements with cultural differences in theorizing sound, such as differences in belief about what sound is as well as how it relates to, say, conceptions of personhood, the body, public space, and power, have yet to be fully incorporated into sound studies.[6] While posthumanist challenges to conceptualizations of "the listening subject" and modernity’s binaries (such as nature/culture) have begun to influence ethnomusicology (most notably Ochoa Gautier’s 2014 landmark study), we contend that such contributions further demonstrate the need for a broad, comparative project set within the discipline of sound studies but concentrating explicitly on the global South. [7]

Novak’s and Sakakeeny’s edited volume, Keywords in Sound (2015), approximates such a unified statement, as the book’s editors and many of its contributors are ethnomusicologists; nevertheless, because it is concerned with the genealogy of important terms for sound studies, it is necessarily tethered to an exploration of sound-related concepts of European derivation. In his contribution to that volume, for instance, Sterne writes that, "The West is still the epistemic center for much work in sound studies…" (71), and he continues on in an endnote to say that, "Alas, as shown once again by this keyword entry . . . Eurocentrism continues" (74n3). Also relevant to include in this discussion is the forthcoming volume, Audible Empire (Radano and Olaniyan, forthcoming), which promises to provide a much needed rethinking on the position of music in formations of empire around the world. We see Remapping Sound Studies as participating in the same intellectual moment as Audible Empire, but our emphasis is more overtly on the global South, and we are less invested in "music" as a fundamental category of analysis. In sum, it is possible to view these three volumes—Keywords in Sound, Audible Empire, and Remapping Sound Studies—as a kind of trilogy that carves out a crucial space in twenty-first century thinking about sound.

Remapping Sound Studies begins the work of reorienting sound studies toward Southern concerns.

Remapping Sound Studies begins the work of reorienting sound studies toward Southern concerns. By doing so, though, it is not our aim simply to transplant Northern theory to Southern locales. Nor do we wish to position the global South as a generic backdrop of sonic difference.[8] Rather, we suggest that attending to sound in the global South necessitates asking different sorts of questions than have been typically asked in sound studies, and we contend that this change will in turn require broadening the purview of sound studies because it will challenge some of the field’s central presuppositions. For example, how do approaches to technology and differences in its use across Africa, Latin America, and Asia complicate the narrative of technological modernity articulated by recent scholarship on sonic culture? In what ways might sound and listening in diverse global settings affirm or mitigate modernity’s binaries of sacred/secular, private/public, human/nonhuman, male/female, and nature/culture? What do the entanglements of sound in various regimes of value, such as practices of listening in empire and regulations of sound in colonial and postcolonial contexts, tell us about the history of sound in modernity? How can studies of the structural and sensory marginalization of the urban poor under contemporary neoliberal conditions contribute to our understandings of what sound is and what it does? These are just some of the questions that turning to the global South compels us to interject into the discussions that animate sound studies.

More than mere critique, then, Remapping Sound Studies is intended as a decolonizing gesture…as an affirmative practice and as an opening.

More than mere critique, then, Remapping Sound Studies is intended as a decolonizing gesture: we understand the "permanent decolonization of thought" (Viveiros de Castro 2009) as an affirmative practice and as an opening. We recognize that the discursive terrain that sound studies has devised is relevant for understanding sound in the global South, but mainly in that it forms a key part of the global history of sonic interaction between variously constituted Northern and Southern sites. A consideration of North–South sonic relations, though, is just one node in the larger constellation that comprises Remapping Sound Studies. What kinds of perspectives on sound readily appear when we turn our attention to Southern contexts? A good example of the type of research we are advocating can be glimpsed in the work of Tripta Chandola—someone less well known in sound studies but deserving of recognition (a new essay by Chandola appears in this volume). In a 2010 dissertation and a number of powerful essays (2012, 2014), Chandola writes about the "sensorial ordering" that sounds in a Delhi slum produce through their ability to identify its residents to middle-class outsiders as "filthy, dirty, and noisy," a process through which such peoples "segregate, exclude and discriminate the slums" (2011, 4–5). She memorably calls this tendency "listening into others." By considering a number of easily forgotten but essential human and nonhuman sounds, like wailing (which she describes as a "nonnegotiable sonic performance"; 2014, 216), and by studying how some sounds (such as water taps) facilitate movements and pathways through the slums with their own sensorial hierarchies, Chandola’s work is a compelling example of how sound studies can be fruitfully expanded by attending to the structural disenfranchisement that is characteristic of much of the global South. The strength of Remapping Sound Studies, we hope, is that such perspectives can in turn be read back upon the North—which continues to produce slums of its own—in productive ways.[9]

There is, of course, no single way to remap sound studies, but the papers in this volume engage a coherent set of concerns. Recurring topics include cases where sound reproduction technologies evade a narrative of linear progress and are shown to be unevenly constituted across urban terrain; contestations over sound in public space, including the interrelations between "sacred" sounds and the presumed secular nature of public space in neoliberal conditions; thresholds of audibility, both as these are affectively experienced and as culturally defined notions of what constitutes noise, excess, and transgression; and the interrelations between sound, biopower, and governmentality. Our aim is to open the door toward an understanding of sound that generates comparative analysis between variously construed places, but which does so while emphasizing the singularity of each location and context described. What emerges is a quite different take on sound as a heterogeneous "acoustic assemblage" (Ochoa Gautier 2014) that is continually refigured through different modes of relating, performing, attending, and transducing, and through highly contingent entanglements with technology, space, temporality, and power. We strive to show that such topics do not merely fill out sound studies by locating difference in the global South; they implore us to reconsider the category of "sound" in the North in light of such topics.

Our aim is to open the door toward an understanding of sound that generates comparative analysis between variously construed places, but which does so while emphasizing the singularity of each location and context described.

Remapping Sound Studies makes three affirmative proposals for a remapping of sound studies.

  1. Sound’s relationship to technology. We propose a shift from a focus on technology as a "modern" Western practice that reproduces, isolates, and idealizes sound to an analysis of "constitutive technicity" (Gallope 2011)—that is, of any and every supplement that humans engage in the production, reception, transduction, and attenuation of sound. In other words, we argue for a shift from technology as a set of inventions developed at a particular place and historical juncture to an exploration of the infinite series of objects and techniques through which "culture" is always already constituted.
  2. The question of sound as a relationship between listener and something listened to. Sound necessitates a listener but also something heard. To say that something is heard means that there is some "thing" beyond and preceding human perception. In other words, the issue is not only a sensory one: it is also resolutely ontological because the various peoples of the world understand that which is heard in radically different manners. Thus, we propose viewing sound studies as an ethnographic experiment with the thresholds or limits of audibility rather than simply a consideration of sound as a historically contingent "social construction." What we have in mind is a perspective that at once acknowledges the ontology of sound from a posthumanist perspective (i.e., there exists an independently real or noncorrelational entity beyond human experience) and cultural differences in prehending sound. We suggest that ethnographies of the interrelations between these domains will form a critical component of a remapped sound studies.
  3. A conceptualization of sonic history as nonlinear and saturated with friction. We propose that sonic history should be conceived as a narrative of jagged histories of encounter, including friction, antagonism, surveillance, mitigation, navigation, negotiation, and nonlinear feedbacks, rather than as efficiency, inexhaustibility, increasing isolation of the listening subject, and increasing circulation. Thus, in this volume we have incorporated a consideration of sound and the body, not only gendered sounds, but the ways that sound is used to listen in and through others and form social relations. This part of our project allows for politicized, historically situated, and culturally diverse narratives of sonic encounters in global modernity between variously defined peoples and their notions of sound. At the same time, we propose that biopower, governmentality, and the articulation of public and private space are integral for understanding colonial and postcolonial dynamics in Northern/Southern engagements with sound.

Taken together, these three proposals suggest that sound studies can actively participate in decolonization as an affirmative gesture and not simply as critique. What we have in mind here is a dislodging of Northern biases such that the encounters considered in the above proposals can be read across Northern and Southern perspectives, rather than ignoring the latter and thus reifying and producing Northern perspectives on sound that have affected Southern locales, sometimes in negative and even pernicious ways.

Conference Abstracts, Part A: The Technology Problematic

1. “Another Resonance: South Africa and the Study of Sound” by Gavin Steingo

The fact that many of sound studies’ conclusions are based on evidence from Europe and North America is not in itself entirely problematic. More troubling, however, is that the cultural specificity of these conclusions is rarely acknowledged—instead, certain observations are generalized, sometimes even becoming axiomatic. This paper examines three common arguments made by sound studies researchers and then places these arguments into dialogue with southern contexts, and particularly the townships of South Africa where I have conducted extensive fieldwork over the past eight years. I examine: (1) the notion that sound technologies are increasingly isolating the listening subject into individual "bubbles," for example, in automobiles and through mobile listening devices; (2) the assumption that musical circulation is continually accelerating due to technological innovation and various forms of deregulation; and (3) the association of listening with biopolitical investment and efficiency, as articulated, for example, by scholars dealing with attempts to combat workers’ hearing loss in European industrial settings. Drawing on examples from my fieldwork, I challenge each of these arguments. Against the notion of audition in mobile bubbles, for example, I show that in South Africa cars are both social and sonically "open." Against accelerating circulation, I point to technological marginalization in the townships and map out emerging forms of nonlinear sonic movement. Finally, I show that hearing loss in South Africa’s gold mines is characterized less by biopolitical investment than by logics of superfluity and abandonment. Beyond simply critiquing the assumptions, methods, and conclusions of sound studies scholars, I present a grounded ethnographic study of a radically different relationship to sound. In the final part of the paper, I make several suggestions toward a "remapped" sound studies that moves between global North and South and that speaks more directly to our current political moment.


2. “Ululations” by Louise Meintjes

Through close analysis of one grandmother’s ululating at a Zulu men’s ngoma performance in Msinga, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, I consider the technique, sound, and social practice of ululation as a sound of the South. Ululation is a form of acoustic reverberation that amplifies a woman’s voice. It is an insertion of praise while it also exhorts. It is an assertion of a relational presence and an announcement. It is unmarked as artistry even while good ululators are appreciated. A voice seemingly on the margins of (male-centered) performances, it is critical to proceedings and to the sound track of events, and it is heard over and above, and beyond an event. As reverberating vocables, it is "pure" voice. A study of ululation remaps Sound Studies by focusing on reverberation as acoustic and relational, as African (and Middle Eastern), and as a metaphor for dialogue returning amplified and inflected from the South. In particular, that dialogue shifts the attention in Sound Studies from technology to the voice; genders Sound Studies, thereby filling out the multiplicity of Sound Studies narratives; and finds sympathetic vibrations with Black Studies, also curiously underplayed in Sound Studies as it is evolving.


3. “Aural Mediations of Life and Death among Afro-Pacific Colombian Midwives” by Jairo Moreno

Like Western prenatal biomedical aural practices, antenatal care among midwives in the Pacific region of Colombia takes sound as a primary index of life and of the well-being of fetus and mother. Similarities end there and the reasons are diverging ontologies of life and death. Afro-Colombian communities regard the fetus as a being capable of hearing and listening, given its constitution as a mediation between divinities and mortals. This aural mediation discloses for the communities a resonant continuum linking the transcendental and the contingent, two temporal and spatial planes that the fetus, by virtue of its particular aurality, alone embodies and enacts. This outlook requires a rethinking of the sonic event as a "quasi-event," and of antenatal existence as a "quasi-life" in which "being and non-being, existence and inherence" (Deleuze) fold one another. Sound here is transformed by the perspective that attains it (i.e., the fetus, the midwife, the mother, the community) in an acoustic relationality which is as much about the power of sound as it is about the terrifying powers of listening. Methodologically, this demands the recognition of an "indigenous plane of immanence" (Viveiros de Castro) as the grounds for the particular modes of speciation that disrupt the notion of a common human aurality.

Conference Abstracts, Part B: Multiple Liminologies

1. “Music, Loudness, Excess, and the Experience of Trauma on Colombia’s Pacific Coast” by Michael Birenbaum Quintero

This paper examines practices of loudness in the Colombian city of Buenaventura to understand the imbrication of sounded practices in the workings of power in a "global city of the South." Buenaventura is typical of Southern cities in which managerial or financial operations of a neoliberal bent and at a global scale coexist with contradictory regimes of everyday life at the lived scale, producing patterns of overlapping exclusion and inclusion in which the rational and irrational manifestations of the political are both temporally coeval and spatially intercalated by densely reticulate regimes of politics and power: governmentality and abandonment, biopolitical management and necropolitical violence. I follow practices of loudness in various settings in Buenaventura—a soundproofed hotel, home and neighborhood "sound systems," a mining camp, torture chambers—and reveal how they exemplify local notions of political constituency, political action, experiences of sovereignty and abjection to power, and human personhood itself. These local idiosyncrasies can ultimately help us rethink some of the assumptions undergirding academic sound studies, which tend to accept unquestioningly North Atlantic accounts of the liberal state, bourgeois civil society, formal politics, and the individuated citizen–listener that do not apply in cities of the global South like Buenaventura.


2. “Banlieues Sounds; or, The Right to Exist” by Hervé Tchumkam

This article reflects on sounds and silences in relation to youth resistance culture in the aftermath of the 2005 urban riots in the French banlieues (outskirts of major cities) in France. In a sociohistorical context where debates on national identity and race have become two key factors of political life, the limit or threshold between life and death, audibility, and inaudibility has become irrelevant. I will maintain that the resort to civil disobedience and rioting as a means of appearance can be interpreted as the result of an absence of communication between French Hip-Hop singers who have been voicing their denunciation of social injustice for the past three decades and the successive governments’ apparatus that have consistently refused to hear and listen to them. I build on philosophical and sociological theories to show the ways in which the riots function as a means of resistance and in consequence, stage the most important questions about difference, assimilation, and what I call "the right to exist." Ultimately, it is my contention that flames have replaced sounds, and riots have become the almost only way to exist not in a biological sense, since banlieues inhabitants obviously exist, but in a more political–ontological way.

[See Tchumkam, Hervé. 2015. State Power, Stigmatization, and Youth Resistance Culture in the French Banlieues. New York: Lexington Books.]


3. “Listening for a Critical Sonic Ethnography in Syrian Dabke” by Shayna Silverstein

This paper offers to sound studies an embodied engagement with sound practices through which emerge ethnographic subjectivities, and by extension, it points to the relationality of sound and its implications for knowledge production. Extending the study of Arab listening practices to popular (sha’bi) culture in Syria, the article explores the performance tradition of Syrian dabke as a site for "critical sonic ethnography." The author describes how she learned to practice dabke and perform gender, race, and class in variously situated contexts, demonstrating that listening is a somatic mode of attention (Csordas) that paradigmatically embodies the ethnographic process. The paper calls attention to the emergent conditions of this process to argue that listening, like other modes of ethnography, is incidental, subject to spatial-temporal disjunctures, and indicative of social distinctions between researcher and object of study. This critical sonic ethnography problematizes the position of the researcher as a listening subject within the broader polemics of knowledge production and critiques listening as a site for the production of difference (Kheshti 2011). [See Silverstein, Shayna. 2012. “Syria’s Radical Dabka.” Middle East Report 263: 33–37.]

Conference Abstracts, Part C: The Politics of Sound

“Sound, Economy, Magic: On the Regulation of Buddhist and Hindu Processions in Colonial Ceylon and Malaya” by Jim Sykes

This article explores how the constitution of "religion" in the British colonies of Ceylon and Malaya occurred in tandem with the regulation of religious sounds in public space. The article describes indigenous ontologies of Buddhist and Hindu sounds in which certain sounds are construed as gifts to the gods, and it describes how the British misconstrued these as being associated with "arts" and "communal expression" rather than recognizing them as a political economy of sound. The paper argues that sound studies needs to develop the idea of a sonic political economy in order to register how sound came into contact with discourses on personhood and the regulation of communities and public space in the colonies, rather than conceptually reduce such sounds to a European-derived discourse on sound as religious devotion. The final section puts these historical dynamics into dialogue with writings on the magic of capitalism (e.g., Stengers and Pignarre 2011) to show that postcolonial Hindu processional sounds in Ceylon and Malaya were viewed as disrupting the everyday workings of capital when they cross a physical and aural threshold from "festival of devotion" to "sonic political economy.


  1. By "global South," we refer to a geographic and political grouping characterized by uncertain economic development—primarily, Africa, Latin America, and much of Asia—but we also refer, somewhat more polemically and less precisely, to a series of exclusions that define twenty-first century political economy. Under conditions of twenty-first century finance capitalism, ecological crisis, and mass inequality, we contend that thinking from a Southern perspective presents an opportunity for new modes of listening, acting, and worlding. A good entry into this topic is Comaroff and Comaroff (2011) and a series of responses collected in "Symposium: Theory From the South" (2012). For an excellent set of reflections on cities in the global South, see the contributions in Dawson and Edwards (2004).
  2. We recognize the innovative nature of this scholarship (e.g., Labelle 2010 and Bull 2007), which we build on here; one of our aims is to bring it into dialogue with writings on urban life, design, and spatiality outside the global North (e.g., Simone 2009; Kusno 2010; Nuttall and Mbembe 2008).
  3. Two landmark articles in the Annual Review of Anthropology, "Soundscapes: Towards a Sounded Anthropology" (Samuels, Meintjes, Ochoa, and Porcello, 2010) and "The Reorganization of the Sensory World" (Porcello, Meintjes, Ochoa, and Samuels 2010), come close to what we are proposing here, but their intent is more to bring sound studies into dialogue with the anthropology of the senses than it is to use perspectives on sound from the global South to remap the intellectual terrain of sound studies. We furthermore outline our orientation toward sound studies, rather than sensory or auditory studies, later in this introduction.
  4. However, Feld looms large in anthropological studies of sensory perception.
  5. Some voices have called for ethnomusicology’s closing shop and for its subsequent replacement by sound studies: for instance, writing in the pages of the flagship journal, Ethnomusicology, Deborah Wong (2014, 349) argues that, "If we [ethnomusicologists] ever hope to say what we really want to say, we will need to reject music." As a way to move "beyond music," she proposes a turn toward "sound and noise" and argues that "sound studies disrupts the taxonomies that enclose ethnomusicologists’ work" (Ibid., 350–51).
  6. For instance, in a recent essay, Sykes (2015) argues that attending to Southern ways of conceiving the relations between sound and personhood—following Talal Asad (1993), by thinking of "religious" sounds as techniques rather than expressions of devotion—can go a long way toward bringing sound studies into dialogue with ethnomusicology and the ethnography of South and Southeast Asian religions, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism. This, in turn, opens up a discourse on sound as action, on soundscapes as inherently plural and sometimes conflicting in modernity, and on how the notion of a secular public space has impacted efficacious, public sounds (such as Hindu and Buddhist processions) through the latter’s regulation.
  7. Other subgenres of sound studies that have influenced the discipline but tended not to focus on the global South include writings on sound in film (e.g., Hilmes 2008), studies of sound art and soundscape compositions (e.g., Kelly 2011), and the wave of philosophical writings on "listening," "noise," and "sound" in global modernity (e.g., van Maas 2015; Szendy 2007). Our interests are more aligned with the agendas of the auditory turn in American Studies (e.g., Schmidt 2002; Morat 2014).
  8. Nor are we suggesting that we need only to "balance" the tables by returning to some reactionary formulation under which peoples of the global South are deemed to be closer to the ear than the eye.
  9. We stress that we do not wish to promote a facile association of sound studies in the global South with the study of sound in urban ghettos. While we mainly do focus on sound in working-class, urban contexts in this book—and we incorporate a discussion of gender (see Silverstein, in Remapping Sound Studies), caste (see Sykes, in Remapping Sound Studies), and most chapters in some ways touch upon race, ethnicity, and class—we admit that a fully constituted remapped sound studies in the global South will have to more broadly include studies of elite and rural contexts.



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This paper is an early version of the introduction to Remapping Sound Studies, edited by Gavin Steingo and Jim Sykes (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, forthcoming). Included by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.