Sounding Power and Dissent in Southeast Asia

Type

Double Panel

Part 1

Session 7
Wed 14:00-15:30 REC A2.14

Part 2

Session 8
Wed 16:00-17:30 REC A2.14

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Abstract

This panel explores the relationship between state power and sound, with an emphasis on the significance of sonic dissent in contesting authority and imagining alternative ways of being in, listening to, and sensing the world. Recent years have seen a surge of interest in sound as a heuristic tool to analyze the acoustic dimensions of governance and the exercise of authority. This approach has challenged ocularcentrism by arguing that disciplinary power involves not only the all-seeing gaze of the state but also acts of sounding that aim to assert sonic dominance over bodies and space. At the same time, sound and sound-making practices have been shown to disrupt attempts to establish order through sensory discipline. People harness the affective power of collectively producing and listening to sound, often with the intent to subvert authority. In the process they create alternative acoustic environments that reconfigure subjectivities and forms of intimacy, also between citizens and the state.

The panel analyzes the significance of sound, and its entanglements with other sensory experiences, in understanding changes to power dynamics and soundscapes in Southeast Asia and its diasporas. It asks: How might an attention to sound allow us to think differently about the operations of power in historical and contemporary Southeast Asia? What might an acoustics of power—and opposition—look like? In what ways are sounds and sonic technologies employed as instruments for social and political struggle to produce particular sonic sensibilities? What role has sound played in de/colonization, particularly within contemporary state making projects? And how has sound figured in processes of migration and the creation of alternative sonic narratives?

This double session aims to facilitate an interdisciplinary dialogue on sound(s) across various temporal and spatial contexts of governance and resilience in Southeast Asia, with an emphasis on transnational interconnections. Panelists engage with the sonic aspects of power and dissent in Southeast Asia and Southeast Asian diasporas to consider how the legacies of colonialism and imperialism have been mediated and contested through sound.