P042
Knowing by singing: song, acoustic ecologies and the overflow of meaning

Convenors:
Caroline Gatt (University of Aberdeen)
Valeria Lembo (University of Edinburgh)
Discussant:
Paul Allain (University of Kent), Tim Ingold (University of Aberdeen), Nina Wakeford (Goldsmiths)
Format:
Panels
Location:
SOAS Senate House - S110
Start time:
2 June, 2018 at 9:00
Session slots:
6

Short abstract:

Can song be a way of knowing for anthropologists, rather than an ethnographic object? Can it be a practice of inquiry distinct from logocentric analysis? We invite experimental presentations that use singing to investigate topics ranging from memory and placemaking to forms of collaboration.

Long abstract:

The performative mode of singing puts into relief two issues that are of persisting importance to anthropology: (1) language and meaning and (2) ecology and materiality. Song can incorporate language and meaning explicitly, and yet because of its musicality is always acknowledged as exceeding its semantic value. Singing emerges from an entire acoustic ecology, ecologies of practice, material and storied histories, and from the voices of particular singers. While song has been analysed anthropologically in terms of the senses, healing, colonialism and memory, the craft of song as a way of knowing offers a fruitful but as yet unexplored approach to these topics. Rather than considering song solely as an object of ethnographic study, we propose to take seriously ways of knowing inherent in different practices of singing. We ask: how can anthropologists explore song as an epistemic practice both in its own terms, and in dialogue with conventional academic ways of knowing? We invite experimental presentations, in which presenters feel free to sing as well as talk, that explore the following topics. What is a song? Song in relation to memory, ritual, the living body and healing. Singing in ecological perspective: singing, acoustics, materials and senses of place Relations between movement, gesture and singing Education of attention: pedagogies of singing and singing as pedagogy Voice, sound, silence, noise Voice as expression: affects, aesthetics, subjectivity and politics Singing as collaboration: polyphony, choir, listening and attunement Language and song