“A Sonic Anthropocene. Sound Practices in a Changing Environment”

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“A Sonic Anthropocene. Sound Practices in a Changing Environment”

Guest editors: Ivo Louro (CIUHCT, FCT NOVA), Margarida Mendes (CRA, Goldsmiths College), Daniel Paiva (INET-md, NOVA FCSH), and Iñigo Sánchez (Incipit, CSIC; INET-md, NOVA FCSH)

Since it was first proposed in the early 2000s, the concept of the Anthropocene has gained currency as an interpretive framework to critically examine the increasing impact of human activity on the environment, suggesting the beginning of a new geological epoch. The extension of human agency over the functioning of Earth systems has caused mass transformations upon various material scales, leaving an imprint that has been considered a global geophysical force. This has further problematized both the epistemic and pragmatic application of the nature/culture divide, raising questions about the methodological intervention of various disciplinary fields.

Along with the prolific visual culture developed with the Anthropocene hypothesis — including a large number of infographics, maps and visual documentation of planetary transformations — the present socio-ecological changes equally require practices of listening and aural documentation that register the transformations in the acoustic landscapes of cities and natural environments. These practices of listening and aural documentation might further the capacity of registering the transient space that the Anthropocene occupies in the material domain, while opening up a space for an extended sensibility that accounts for transformations across scales, from the molecular to the societal and the planetary. This space of potential proposed by the Sonic Anthropocene brings forward new possibilities for involving aural documentation tools in environmental affairs, while holding on to the critiques addressed to previous ecological debates initiated in the sonic field, such as is the case of the acoustic ecology movement.

The Sonic Anthropocene attempts to devise critical and practical methodologies that place renewed attention in the registration of how a location’s soundscape shapes the possibilities for listening and sounding of situated people and other living entities, having into account the transformations of the surrounding environment, and the crescent pressure of exponentially industrialized societies and gentrified urban landscapes. From the hums and sonic bursts of deep sea drilling to the prospect of silent springs to come, by way of the trolley rattling and engineered-for-authenticity sonic ambiances of the tourist city, listening to Anthropocene topologies invites for new reflections on scale, presence, permanence, agency and the experience underlyed by the present political moment.

This special issue of Cadernos de Arte e Antropologia seeks to make a contribution to these reflections by placing sound at the centre of an interdisciplinary conversation about the economic, social, cultural, political and ecological processes that underlie the current planetary transformations.
We would like to encourage scholars, artists and practitioners from a diverse range of disciplines to submit proposals for articles, sonic essays or mixed media contributions that may address topics that are related, but not limited to:

  • Sonic ecoactivism and the ecological crisis
  • Biopolitics of natural soundscapes
  • The sustainability of sonic urban ambiances
  • Sonic ecosystems and the ecological dimension of sound and music
  • Alternative sonic forms of solidarity and being-together in times of uncertain futures
  • Sound art and Environmental Fictions
  • Sounding the environment across scales
  • Environmental spectralities and nonhuman audition
  • Sonic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Soundscape as site of negotiation and controversy

The contributions may be submitted in Portuguese, English, French or Spanish. We would also like to encourage proposals comprising sonic and/or visual forms as well as mixed media. Please check the journal’s Section Policies.

Authors should subsequently submit completed articles of approximately 6,000–7,000 words (inclusive of bibliography and endnotes) by July 31, 2020.  All contributions should be submitted online and follow the rules for submission indicated on the journal’s website (cadernosaa.revues.org/).

Prospective contributors with questions regarding the potential suitability of topics, editorial expectations, or any other questions with regard to this special issue are invited to contact the Guest Editors directly by email to isanchez@fcsh.unl.pt.

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