Sounding Crisis

On Febuary 8, 2021 the European Commission announced the results of the MSCA Individual Fellowship 2020. €328 million in grants have been awarded this time to 1,630 excellent researchers from all over the world. It is my great pleasure and honour to announce that sound and radio scholar and journalist Ania Mauruschat (CH/DE) has been awarded one of these prestigious grants for her impressive project „Sounding Crisis: Sonic Agency as Cognate Energies for Climate Action in Denmark/Greenland & Australia“. She will join us as a Marie Curie research fellow at the Sound Studies Lab, University of Copenhagen, from Septeber 1, 2021 for two years .

In her project Ania Mauruschat researches the concept of sonic agency within the climate change discourse as an alternative to dominant concepts of energies. In contrast to the concept of energy used in the area of fuel and power generation, energies in this case are understood as multi-faceted and interrelated phenomena that emit sound and can be listened to in productive ways. Sonic agency, therefore, is defined as acoustic as well as electronically amplified and transmitted sounds as levers to the senses and creators of potential change.

This anthropological notion of sound encompasses both the sound practices of Indigenous peoples addressing environmental issues as well as urban climate activism and its sound practices across all the sites in which it may be present: be it classical media reports, audiovisual representations in social media, music performances and street protests, artistic expressions and newly developed techniques and practices. The aim of her project is to unveil the continuities and variations of different forms of sonic agency therein.

For cultural studies in general and sound studies in particular this project is innovative in its understanding of sound as an analytical point of access to the complex concept of energies. It understands sound as a form of energy in three ways: (1) sound waves as mechanical energy, (2) sound practices of urban climate activists as articulations of the so-called energy unconscious and (3) as urban examples of the Indigenous’ notion of energy intimacy.

Sounding Crisis will assume a synchronic and a diachronic perspective: it looks at historic protest movements and the role of sonic agency within those. Thus, it aims to provide new insights for further developing the terminology, methods and theories in sound studies and for re-thinking the Western concept of energy. It combines, moreover, in a highly innovative way the approaches of an Anthropology of Sound with those from Sound & Energy Studies. This combination might allow to refine the concept of sonic agency and to contribute to the emerging field of Energy Humanities.

The offical launch of the project is planned for mid-September 2021. An invitation and regular up-dates will be published timely.