Accepted Paper:

"Get set for decibel rain!": sound normalisation and local practices in India  

Author:

Christine Guillebaud (CNRS, Laboratoire d'Ethnologie et de Sociologie Comparative (LESC-CREM))

Paper short abstract:

The rise of so-called « sound pollution » in India has fostered the reinforcement of public policies concerning noise issues. On the basis of ethnographic cases (ritual, commercial and political sphere) the paper attempt to identify the local implications of the sound normalisation.

Paper long abstract:

Indian cities are known to be among the noisiest cities in the world. As many other countries, the rise of so-called « sound pollution » has fostered the reinforcement of public policies concerning noise issues. Although a regulatory environment has slowly been built up around many activities, those that address noise pollution specifically emerged recently. These regulations contribute to impose new forms of sound normalisation. They regulate noise levels through physical norms (mainly in terms of decibels) according to the activities (industrial, commercial etc.) and established zones of silence around the public infrastructures. In their practical application, number of prescriptions get into conflict with many local sound practices, part of them ancient and deeply rooted in the local society (and its particular socioreligious backgrounds) giving them their specific meaning. For instance, one could mention the great diversity of musical practices and the numerous ritual activities (calendar festivals, marriages, processions etc.) performed in the public sphere, as well as the different sonic commercial techniques using amplification or a wide range of sound effects for capturing attention. This paper will discuss the conflicting values that have recently emerged with the implementation of noise issues in the arena of arts, culture and religion. On the basis of ethnographic cases - pertaining to the ritual, commercial and political sphere - it will attempt to identify the local implications of the sound normalisation at the everyday, small-scale and strategic mergers between "sound makers" and their audience.

Panel W088
Sound environments: forms, perception, and meanings