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Acoustics of Empire : Sound, Media, and Power in the Long Nineteenth Century - Peter McMurray

Acoustics of Empire

Sound, Media, and Power in the Long Nineteenth Century

By: Peter McMurray (Editor), Priyasha Mukhopadhyay (Editor)

Hardcover | 21 June 2024

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Music and sound studies have increasingly turned their attention to questions of empire and postcolonial thought in recent years, raising new questions about the forms and circulation of cultural, technological, political, and military power as manifest in and through sound. However, most of this scholarship has focused on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Conversely, sound and media studies have made nineteenth-century histories of science and technology a central part of their canonical repertoire, but largely overlooked the ways in which these technological developments emerged from contexts of empire.

Acoustics of Empire provides a cultural history of global acoustics in the Age of Empire. Examining histories of sound, listening practices, and audiovisual technologies of the long nineteenth century through the lens of geopolitical power, the authors recover a sonic history that is irrefutably entangled with questions of imperial power and colonial rule. This volume brings together historians, musicologists, anthropologists, and literary scholars to consider topics ranging from Indian music treatises and vocal practices in Brazil to Egyptian traffic noises and stethoscopes-as-props in South Africa. Across its chapters more broadly, it also draws attention to a period when Euro-American academic disciplines like musicology and linguistics were created, shaped by the imperial contexts in which they emerged. These intertwined legacies of sound and power are not simply historical curiosities; rather, they stand as formative influences in cultural modernity and its discontents that continue to shape the ways we hear and experience the world today.

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