Sonic Diaspora: Exploring Migration Through Interdisciplinary Soundscape Composition

Weleminsky, Carter Joseph. 2021. Sonic Diaspora: Exploring Migration Through Interdisciplinary Soundscape Composition. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

A qualitative inquiry into contemporary experiences of human migration and
fragmentation into various twenty-first century diasporic identities, that uses
interdisciplinary soundscape composition as its primary method. In addition to
conducting explorations of contemporary socio-cultural experience, this thesis challenges
the domination of written texts within current forms of human inquiry. The majority of
past social research employing sound has been written by social scientists, not composers
(see: Sterne, 2003; Back, 2007; Pink, 2009; Rhys-Taylor, 2013).

This study includes both compositional and written elements, not as illustrations of each
other, but as different, overlapping streams of scholarship; each with their own distinct,
coexisting ideas, practices and functions. The project is opportune, given current global
preoccupations with migration, and it is argued that the use of innovative research
methods, such as soundscape composition, has produced valid and original contributions
to scholarship in this field. This inquiry is underpinned by sonic explorations of diasporic
identities, specifically those of Middle Eastern refugees (in the UK) and Anglo olim
(diaspora immigrants to Israel). The complex subject matter of this study: migration and
its fragmentation into ‘diaspora’, has been selected specifically to question and explore
the efficacy of integrated, interdisciplinary soundscape methods.

The thesis is situated at the intersection between the ‘art’ of soundscape composition,
bringing its own distinctly aesthetic deliberations into play, and the ‘science’ of social
inquiry, bringing pertinent, ethical human considerations to the forefront of the work.
This study slowly meandered along a practice-based path, plugging into metaphors from
the composer’s everyday life, making excursions into issues of empathy, audience and
accessibility. The thesis explores flexible arts-informed methodologies, such as
a/r/tography (see: Springgay et al., 2008) before ultimately concluding that these
soundscape compositions are a creative process rather than an alternative form of
methodology (see: Manning, 2016). This thesis is, therefore, practice-based and process-driven.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


soundscapes; sonic ethnography; oral history; diaspora; Jewish identity; sound studies; interdisciplinary methodologies

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Music > Unit for Sound Practice Research


28 February 2021

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

14 Jul 2021 15:26

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:19


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