Sonic Ecologies of Political Protests

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Seminar 33 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Srdan ATANASOVSKI, Institute of Musicology SASA, Serbia
In this paper I will explore the sonic dynamics of selected political protests which took place in Belgrade during 2014 and 2015. I am particularly interested how sonic events provoke the emergence of political subjectivity in situ. The protests I analyse are can broadly be described as protests aimed at demanding Lefebvrian “right to the city”, whether they are conducted by the anti-gentrification initiatives, cyclists’ activists, or LGBT community. Thus, they directly challenge the physical order of the city imposed by the hegemonic power relations. I firstly identify the sounds of policescape (defined in Rancièrian terms) on this protests, which includes not only the obvious sounds of policing, but also wider system of urban sounds and noise which serve to maintain the relations of inequality, perform the acts of classification and identification and structure the social space through the paradigm of “security”. Tracing the political subjectivity residing in the resilience of the carnal body of the protesters, I show how the protests can escalate when the sounds of policing is being recognized as a physical threat to protesters’ body itself. Examples of this include reactions to church bells on Belgrade 2014 Pride, employing police sirens on 2015 protest “Ne da(vi)mo Beograd” (“Don’t drown Belgrade / Don’t give up on Belgrade”, aimed against gentrification building development “Belgrade on Water”), etc. I am particularly interested in exploring the importance of the intensity of this sonic events, arguing that both the sounds of poliscescape and the sounds of resilience are not primarily discursive events, but function as sensual “vibrational body”, whose capacity to affect protesters, provoke different sensory experience of the event and acquire political (non-human) agency is directly tied to the material properties of the sound itself.