Sounding Crisis

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On February 8, 2021 the European Commission announced the results of the MSCA Individual Fellowship 2020: This time €328 M in grants have been awarded to 1630 excellent experienced researchers from all over the world. It is my great pleasure and honour that my project proposal “Sounding Crisis. Sonic Agency as Cognate Energies for Climate Action in Denmark/Greenland & Australia“ has been awarded one of these prestigious grants.

In the face of climate crisis, my 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, I 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 to provide 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.

In September 2021 I will start my first post-doc position as a MSCA fellow at the University of Copenhagen. In Denmark Holger Schulze, full professor in musicology and principal investigator at the Sound Studies Lab, will be my supervisor. During my research stay in Australia the renowned Sound and Energy Studies scholar Douglas Kahn will be my host in Sydney. I thank the reviewers of the European Commission, who chose my project from 11’573 submissions in 2020, as well as everyone who supported me over the last two years in the process of developing my project. My gratitude for their hospitality goes out to the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies of Københavens Universitet and to my two supervisors Holger and Doug. I am very much looking forward to these promising collaborations.

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