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Toward an Anthropology of Ambient Sound

Edited by Christine Guillebaud

Routledge, London, 2017, 240 p. – Routledge studies in Anthropology


This volume approaches the issue of ambient sound through the ethnographic exploration of different cultural contexts including Italy, India, Egypt, France, Ethiopia, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, and Japan. It examines social, religious, and aesthetic conceptions of sound environments, what types of action or agency are attributed to them, and what bodies of knowledge exist concerning them. Contributors shed new light on these sensory environments by focusing not only on their form and internal dynamics, but also on their wider social and cultural environment.

The multimedia documents of this volume may be consulted at the address:

Table of contents

Introduction Multiple Listenings. Anthropology of Sound Worlds – Christine Guillebaud

Part 1: Listening into Others

1. Noising the City: Revealing Neapolitan « Soundciabilities » in Pyrotechnical Practices – Olivier Féraud

2. Sounds of Hell and Sounds of Eden: Sonic Worlds in Ethiopia in the Catholic Missionary Context, 17th-18th Centuries – Anne Damon-Guillot

3. An « Obscene » Calling: Emotionality in/of Marginalized Spaces. A Listening of/into ‘Abusive’ Women in Govindpuri (Delhi) – Tripta Chandola

Part 2: Sound Displays and Social Effects

4. Standing out from the Crowd. Vocal and Sound Techniques for Catching People’s Attention in an Indian Bus Stand – Christine Guillebaud

5. Melodic Refrains in Japanese Train Stations: The Management of Passenger Behavior through the use of Electric Bells – Pierre Manea

Part 3: Sound Identity and Locality

6. Acoustic Communities Represented: Sound Preferences in the Scottish Village of Dollar – Heikki Uimonen

7. Mics in the Ears: How to Ask People in Cairo to Talk about their Sound Universes – Vincent Battesti

8. Mapping out the Sounds of Urban Transformation: The Renewal of Lisbon’s Mouraria Quarter – Iñigo Sánchez

9. Listening to the city. The Sonorities of Urban Growth in Barcelona – Claire Guiu

Part 4: Sound Arts and Anthropology

10. Not just Tones, Noises Too! On Sound Poetry – Jean-Charles Depaule

11. Tribute to a Footbridge: Contact Dance and Sound Spaces Improvisations in Choisy-Le-Roi – Vincent Rioux

Afterword The Sonic Attunement of Social Life – Jean-Paul Thibaud



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