Sounding Crisis

Sonic Agency as Cognate Energies for Climate Action



This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101027286.

About the project

In September 2021 “Sounding Crisis”, a postdoc project commissioned by the European Commission within the MSCA Individual Fellowship 2020 , was launched at the Sound Studies Lab of the University of Copenhagen. The full title of the project is „Sounding Crisis. Sonic Agency as Cognate Energies for Climate Action in Denmark/Greenland & Australia“.

In the face of climate crisis, the project researches the concept of ‘Sonic Agency’ within climate change discourse as an alternative knowledge of ‘energies’. In contrast to the concept of ‘energy’ in sources and systems of fuel and power generation, the project owner Ania Mauruschat understand ‘energies’ as ‘multi-faceted and interrelated phenomena that emit sound and can be listened to in productive ways’. ‘Sonic agency’ 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, such as classical media reports, the a/v in social media, music and street protests, artistic expressions and new techniques and practices. The aim is to unveil the continuities and variations of different forms of ‘sonic agency’. The project is innovative in its understanding of ‘sound’ as an analytical point of access to the complex concept of ‘energies’. It understands sound itself as energies 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’. The project will have a synchronic and diachronic perspective, as it also will refer to historic protest movements and the role of ‘sonic agency’ within them. Thus, it aims at providing new insights for enhancing the terminology, methods and theories of Sound Studies and for re-thinking the Western concept of ‘energy’. It combines in an innovative way the two novel approaches of Anthropology of Sound and Sound & Energy Studies to further elaborate the concept of ‘Sonic Agency’ and therefore contributes to the emerging field of Energy Humanities.

The project and its field research will be accompanied by regular blog posts and podcast episodes. For further information please register for the newsletter or subscribe to the weblog and podcast via RSS feed.

Upcoming events

Participation in the Science is Wonderful week 2021, organised by the European Commission. The idea is to present your research to high-school students in their mother tongue. 

Online-meeting with students from the Beethoven Gymnasium in Berlin-Lankwitz to present to them and discuss with them the research project “Sounding Crisis” in German. 

Head Researcher

My name is Ania Mauruschat, I am the researcher behind this project. Originally, I am a German media studies scholar (aesthetics & ecology, theory & culture) and lecturer, focussing on sound and radio. Trained as as a journalist and as an editor and educated in the humanities and social sciences in Munich, I worked from 2002 to 2012 full-time for the press and public radio stations. Mainly I focused on the ramifications of digitisation on art, literature and sciences. This lead to a special research and work collaboration with radio drama & media art department of the Bavarian broadcasting station Bayern 2 (BR), amongst others resulting in the 15 part interview series „suchmaschine wissen macht: Chancen & Risiken der Digitalisierung“ (2007/08).

From 2012 to 2014 I worked as a scientific assistant, lecturer and project manager at the chair for media aesthetics at the University of Basel (Switzerland). Since October 2017 I am elected speaker of the consortium Auditive Culture & Sound Studies of the German Society of Media Studies . Since January 2018 I am member of the doctoral programme „Epistemologies of Aesthetic Practices“ at the  Collegium Helveticum in Zurich, Switzerland. The title of my PhD project is „Radiophonics, Noise & Understanding. Towards an Epistomology of Radio Art“. From April 2019 to July 2021 I was assistant of the president of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ästhetik

My main fields of research and interest are aesthetics, artistic research, sound and radio studies, environmental humanities and energy studies, media theory, digitization, catastrophes in art and culture, gender and media.

I live in Copenhagen and online.

Photo: Maria Dorner. www.mariadorner.de

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