Doing sonic urban ethnography: voices from Shanghai, Berlin and London

Aceska, Ana; Doughty, Karolina; Tiryaki, Muhammet Esat; Robinson, Katherine; Tisnikar, Eva and Xu, Fang. 2024. Doing sonic urban ethnography: voices from Shanghai, Berlin and London. Urban Studies, ISSN 0042-0980 [Article] (In Press)

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Abstract or Description

Matters of sound and listening are increasingly being attended to across the social sciences and humanities, reflecting what has been termed a ‘sonic turn’ since the early 2000s. In urban ethnographic research, scholars are starting to pay attention to the role of sound in social relations, in expressions of identity and senses of belonging, as well as in processes of othering. In this paper, we explore the theoretical and methodological opportunities of sonic urban ethnography, that is, an urban ethnography that foregrounds sound and listening in theoretical and methodological ways. We argue that the promise of sonic urban ethnography lies in its ability to interrupt the predominant focus on text and the visual by developing expanded practices of listening for alternative ways of knowing and engaging with the urban. We share four empirical vignettes from Shanghai, Berlin and London that illustrate, in their different ways, the power exercised through sound in the urban environment. Our discussion of the empirical cases highlights three key ‘lessons’ for doing sonic urban ethnography.

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City, language, sonic ethnography, sound, soundscape, urban ethnography

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December 2023Accepted
14 February 2024Published Online

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Date Deposited:

01 Mar 2024 10:16

Last Modified:

01 Mar 2024 10:25

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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