Sonic Knowledge Production in Archaeoacoustics: Echoes of elsewhere?

Goh, Su-Ann. 2020. Sonic Knowledge Production in Archaeoacoustics: Echoes of elsewhere?. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis is a critical investigation into the production of knowledge in archaeoacoustics. The recently emerged field of acoustic archaeology explores how sound and listening might relate to human behaviour as evidenced in material remains from the past. Pursuing a methodology of sounding situated knowledges and tracing the figure of the echo as a material-semiotic actor, this research project asks to what extent sonic knowledge production in archaeoacoustics challenges the visually-dominant epistemology of Eurocentric thought.

In the first in-depth analysis of how sonic knowledge is produced in the field to date, this thesis uses interviews of researchers as well as participant-observer fieldwork at the caves of Isturitz-Oxocelhaya and Arcy-sur-Cure, France as well as at Chavín de Huántar, Peru to describe the formation of archaeoacoustics as a discipline. Archaeoacoustics uses sound to conceive of an alterity, often to imply that past cultures were more sound-oriented. I diagnose prevalent trends of sonic knowledge production in archaeoacoustics as sonic positivism and sonic naturalism. I take the capacity of a sonic alterity to task by asking what kind of political-philosophical “elsewhere” is being imagined. I argue that despite the ontoepistemological potential of sound evident in archaeoacoustics, sonic knowledge production in the field has been unable to fully respond to the challenge that the sonic makes to visuocentric Western conceptions of knowledge.

Echoes have been important to archaeoacoustics, yet remain bound to Eurocentric conceptualisations. In response to these current limitations, the thesis reconceptualises echo as a feminist and decolonial sonic figuration. In introducing a theory of aural gnosis to address alternative modalities of knowing through sound and listening, my thesis explores whether echoes can indicate an “elsewhere” of possibilities for the notion of knowledge itself.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

Redacted version of thesis made available. Full version is embargoed.


Sound, feminism, decoloniality, knowledge production, epistemology, archaeology, archaeoacoustics, echo

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


31 August 2020

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

07 Jun 2021 13:08

Last Modified:

13 Sep 2022 10:15


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