Sensorial Ecologies: Sonic Literacy and Restorative Listening in Watery Worlds

Mendes, Margarida. 2023. Sensorial Ecologies: Sonic Literacy and Restorative Listening in Watery Worlds. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

No full text available
[img] Text (Sensorial Ecologies: Sonic Literacy and Restorative Listening in Watery Worlds)
Permissions: Administrator Access Only until 31 August 2026.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (1MB)

Abstract or Description

Listening practices have been used to monitor and register ecosystems by a wide range of sound artists, researchers, scientists, and activists, who have directed their attention towards sound as a medium to trace the present environmental crisis. This practice-based PhD dissertation introduces different sonic investigations, exploring how sonic practices can be mobilised towards ecological and community reparation, proposing a series of ecopedagogical experiments and a renewed gaze towards sonic literacy.

This thesis project draws from the field of Environmental Humanities to contribute to debates around the Sonic Anthropocene, expanding through a convergence of discursive areas that stem from oceanography, infrastructure critique, media and sound studies, to ecopedagogy. It comprises a series of sonic investigations in the North Atlantic Ocean, Mississippi, and Tejo rivers, where I reflect how practices of listening shape one’s understanding of the environment, which is mediated by sensing infrastructures, interspecies interactions, and the impacts of extractive industries. This research addresses the ecological relations that listening enables, and its possible intervention as a restorative tool, exploring how sensory practices may attend to environmental grief, and do justice to more reciprocal interspecies relations. Through a focus on environmental literacy and experimental methodologies, this project interweaves writing sections, with listening meditations, and field work notes from the sensory exercises conducted.

The first part of this dissertation includes a theoretical analysis of sensorial ecologies and the genealogies of ocean sensing and underwater sonic media, laying the ground for the case studies introduced on the subsequent chapters. On Chapter 3 and Chapter 4, I address how listening practices and experimental fieldwork methodologies may report from sites of intensive industrialisation, and potentially take on restorative roles.

The term Sensorial Ecologies probes how one’s conceptualisation of ecology is ever shifting and should be as understood as including a multiplicity of co-emergent technological, environmental, and bodily interactions. By addressing the potentials of sensory perception, I propose that a renewed investment in sonic literacy might challenge ideas of ecological partition and fixity, and how different understandings of listening practices may help us reframe acts of conservation, infrastructural mediation, and work towards a decolonial ecology.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Sonic Ecology, Sonic Literacy, Toxicity, Sensing, Environmental Justice, Ecological Grief

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


31 August 2023

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

12 Sep 2023 10:25

Last Modified:

12 Sep 2023 10:25


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)