Sonic Entanglements, funded by the Dutch Scientific Research Organization (Nederlands Wetenschappelijk Organisatie – NWO) is headed by dr. meLê yamomo and is embedded at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis and the Department of Theatre Studies at the University of Amsterdam.
The research project, Sonic Entanglements: Listening to Modernities in Sound Recordings of Southeast Asia, 1890-1950 will identify, organize, and analyze extant early sound (musical and non-musical) media in and about Southeast Asia during the emergence and development of early recording technologies in the region (1880-1950). The research endeavors to expand the historiographical archival corpus to include the early sound media and technologies as primary sources for the theoretical reflection of the Southeast Asian cultural history of modernities and the region’s entanglement with modern globalization. The project methodologically shifts away from the philological analyses of historical texts, towards developing a framework of knowing how residents of Southeast Asia understood and constituted modernities through hearing and listening. In doing so, the study aims to provide a corrective in the text literacy-based historiography of Southeast Asia modernities which occludes non-literate actors and ‘voices’. This study on historical sounds of the Southeast Asian region also contributes to expanding the geographical and cultural bases of the sound studies and sound history. The project will examine three themes of modernities in three different case studies: (1) modern racial epistemology and the colonial practices of ethnomusicology, (2) urbanization and ‘noise’ policies, and (3) anti/postcolonial political identities and early radio broadcast.
Sonic Entanglements will produce academic publications and a podcast series to make its findings available to the public. Through the support of the Transregional Studies Forum-Berlin, meLê yamomo has recently organized a workshop that brought together sound scholars and sound experts in/about Southeast Asia. Through this workshop, the project envisions to kick-start an inter-institutional research, artistic collaborations, and digital humanities tool.