Listening Sonic Modernity in Latin America

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Carlos Abreu/Texas State University & Francisco Laguna/University of Denver
contact email: 



Editors: Francisco Laguna Correa and Carlos Abreu Mendoza

CFP website:

​Whether framed as divergent (Ramos), cruel (Franco), subaltern (Saldívar, ed), vanguardist (Sanders), multiple and baroque (Bolívar Echeverría), kaleidoscopic (Schelling), contradictory and hybrid (García Canclini), truncated (Roniger), enchanted (Morello et all), or with a dark side (Mignolo), discussions of modernity have predominated in the field of Latin American Studies. These deep explorations into the nature of modernity have also shown a particular preference for spatiality, a visual category which privileges a critical vocabulary that seeks to map, survey, visualize, and picture a series of landscapes and territories. Moreover, Latinamericanist scholars continue to act as cartographers of a lettered city that is more scrutinized and surveyed than ever. The attempts to go beyond the spatial matrix of the lettered city (Rappaport and Cummins), to unearth its archeology (Nemser), and to historically situate its decline and fall (Franco), attest to the privileging of visual artifacts (texts, archives, literature, film, visual media) in our field of study. The power of this “ocularcentrism” shows that we, as cultural critics, literary scholars, and researchers traversing interdisciplinary fields, are the inheritors of the sensorium inaugurated by modernity in which vision reigns by repressing other senses. We are the contemporary perpetuators of the shift from orality to literacy; with our gloved hands perusing the dust of the archives and our eyes constantly examining a growing bibliography, we have become the “silent scanners of written words, isolated readers in the linear world of texts” (Schmidt).


This edited volume attempts to break from the vision-dominated storyline of Latin American modernity by using sound and sonic experiences as thresholds of interdisciplinary inquiry. The assumption that “sound, hearing and listening are foundational to modern modes of knowledge, culture, and social organization” (Sterne) forces us to revisit the contested ways in which modernity takes place in Latin America whether as multiple, peripheral, contested, or hybrid soundings. Following Leigh Eric Schmidt’s call to unearth how the sense of hearing has been framed within the metanarratives of modernity and Alejandra Bronfman and Andrew Grant Wood’s invitation to rejoin the sensory with the epistemological, we seek to build a more intricate historical narrative of the continent’s aurality.

As reflected by the growing interest in fields such as sound studies, ethnomusicology, sonic modernity, and anthropology, theorizations of aurality are in high academic fashion. However, most of the global approaches to sensorial history ignore Latin American cultural productions and scholars working on Latin America are overwhelmingly left out of anthologies, readers, and compilations. Despite this lack of epistemological representation, scholarly production from different academic fields focusing on Latin American cultural productions has been receptive to this growing interest in the sonorous, paying special attention to electronic mass communications media (Gallo), the construction of social profiles through music genres (Ramos-Kittrell), transnational sonic encounters at the border (Madrid), and acoustical explorations of the written archive (Ochoa Gautier), among other sonic phenomena. Our volume will contribute to this growing bibliography by looking at the sonorous interstices within the registry of the experience of modernity in Latin American cultural production across continental borders. We propose the following topics as a guide for our contributors, as we anticipate either a chronological or thematic organization of the volume:

  •      Theorizations of Latin American modernity through the production, reception or dissemination of sound.

  •      Music as a laboratory for experimentations in modernity.

  •      The exploration of sounds that resurrect hidden colonial strata. 

  •      The emergence of memories of suffering through sound. 

  •      Sound projects of indigenous self-determination. 

  •      The violence within the soundscapes of colonial and modern Latin America and its pervasiveness in the present.

  •      Mapping sound and sonic experiences in the archives.

  •      The relationship of the aesthetics of music and the contexts of its consumption.

  •      Voices of resistance to the media’s neoliberal grip in the increasingly globalized modern nation-state.

  •      Sonic circulation in Latin America and the role of periodicals and memories in the construction of sonic canons.

  •      The sounds of the “transnationalization of the Black condition” as a constitutive moment for modernity (Mbembe).

  •      Thinking beyond the ocularcentrism of racial discourse to start building projects of hearing through race.

  •      Sonic racial archaeologies in the constitution of modern national subjects. 

  •      If as Jonathan Sterne has suggested there was an “Ensoniment” simultaneous to the Enlightenment, what are the  “conjunctures among ideas, institutions and practices       [that] rendered the world audible in new ways and valorized new constructs of hearing and listening” in Latin America?

  •      The fluid transnational practices of music forms that are no longer inherently tied to particular ethnic groups  (Hesmondhalgh and Negus): i.e. Latino punk as a way of resistance that strengthens emotional bonds and sense of neighborhood belonging in South Central and East Los Angeles. 

  •      The maneuvers between reason, resonance, and space as polyphonic trajectories in the emergence of modernity  (Erlmann).

  •      The use of mass communication technologies as instruments of sonic modernization and deployment of nation building soundscapes.

  •      The transformation of sound technologies from an instrument of colonial civilization into a voice of subaltern agency.

  •      Forms of aural dissidence: i.e. Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling against the U.S. national anthem as a symbol of oppression and subjugation.