Sounding the City: Aural Intimacies and Ecologies of Knowledge in Gulu, Uganda

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2020

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Abstract

My dissertation is a sensory ethnographic study of the competing forces through which places become cities. I examine how sounding and listening animate practices of city-making in Gulu, Uganda. During my research, I apprenticed with car mechanics, understudied with music producers, and shadowed municipal technocrats, in addition to analyzing a variety of archives, conducting interviews, making sound maps and collecting field-recorded sounds. This multi-sited approach enables me to foreground the entanglement of technical expertise, place-specific knowledges, expressive socialities, and transnational political ecologies. I consider these encounters in dialogue with literature on cities in Africa, studies of sensory and aural politics, and critical theories of intimacy and materiality, to show how Africana aurality shapes city-making. Each of these entangled practices give rise to “Gulu City” through intimate aural relations through which lived environments are actively made into cities. This work contributes to the broad theorization of cities in the global south by examining sounding and listening as environmental, embodied, and atmospheric as well as social practices that afford vital urban relations.

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Bitter, Joella (2020). Sounding the City: Aural Intimacies and Ecologies of Knowledge in Gulu, Uganda. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20993.

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