Aural anthropology
Antonio Marazzi (University of Padova, Italy)
Francesco Spagna (Università di Padova)
Moving bodies: Sounds and Resonance/Corps mouvants: Sons et résonnance
MRT 015
Start time:
2 May, 2017 at 13:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Hearing in the perception of soundscapes, production and uses of sounds and noises in various cultures and environments; acoustic functions for body movements, equilibrium and language abilities.

Long abstract:

We are proposing a new subdiscipline in anthropology, along the recent focus on the senses, dealing with hearing and its importance in various environmental and cultural situations. While perception and production of images have given rise to visual anthropology, aural perception has given rise to separate fields, such as the transference from orality to written scholarly texts, or the registration and interpretation of soundscapes, both natural and man-made; and above all, ethnomusicology. Bur ears are what makes humans able to speak, and cultural meanings of noises are often neglected in fieldwork. Ears control our movements, providing the necessary equilibrium for walking and dancing, under various forms of cultural control. The dividing line between noises and harmonious sounds is also culturally defined, while all kinds of natural sounds are variously classified and interpreted. The contributions of ethnomusicologists and anthropologists in the field are rich (Feld, Seeger, Carpitella), but what seems to be needed is an encompassing framework bringing together such a variety under the common role of our sound perception. Ferdinand De Saussure, the founder of struturalist linguistics, due to have a strong influence in anthropology, started his analysis on what he called 'image acoustique' (acoustic image), later defined as the 'signifiant'. What the proposed Aural Anthropology is trying to achieve is an expansion of this approach to all possible perceptions and expressions of sounds and their cultural interpretations. In the proposed panel we encourage presentations bringing together sounds and written comments, along with written papers.