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ESSA2014: Mapping the Field > About the conference

Sound Studies: Mapping the Field
Second International Conference of European Sound Studies Association

In 2005, radio scholar Michele Hilmes raised the question whether there was a field called Sound Culture Studies? Her answer was a cautious ‘yes, there is a field’. We agree, even though it has become increasingly difficult, even for an avid reader, to have a genuine feeling of a single field of sound studies. We see developments that call for institutional change within the academy. And outside academia we witness a growing interest for sound artworks, sound archives, sound designs, audio books etc. All these examples testify to a vivid, exiting, and rapidly changing field or fields of sound studies.

Having emerged from various traditional disciplines within the humanities and social sciences (musicology, art history, media and cultural studies, psychology, architecture, urban planning, and many more), sound studies has been associated with inter- and transdisciplinary approaches. Holding on to such positions between, under, or above accepted pillars of knowledge remains important. Future sound studies should maintain its place in an inter-disciplinary transit zone, ’ a central meeting place where the sonic imaginations go to be challenged, nurtured, refreshed and transformed’ (Jonathan Sterne). This calls for a restless testing of the epistemological, theoretical, methodological, and historical premises defining the field of sound studies.

The 2nd ESSA conference will address such developments and ideas of what a future sound studies will or should be and how we are to understand them? What kind of theoretical apparatus is needed to analyze and contextualize disciplinary, artistic, political, and societal changes? And what kind of methodological approaches do they call for?