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Sonic affordances : the perception of density and calm in Indian cities


Christine Guillebaud
Webinar 10 november 13:15-15:00

"I am an anthropologist of sound milieus’. By milieu, I mean a composite world made up of sounds produced, perceived, and listened to either intentionally or coincidentally. This simple definition, centred on the idea of experienced ‘sound worlds’, is inscribed in a wider anthropological undertaking. Vehicular traffic is quite dense in the city, the din of horns deafening, and sidewalks and pedestrian areas nearly non-existent. People are immediately immersed in a very dense milieu that initially gives the impression of a vast chaos of sound. But looking more deeply, one sees that instead of considering the sound space in a single overarching and coordinated way, it is better understood as different scales of listening that are mainly organized around individuals and other non visible entities. My presentation will consider Indian sites (stations and public parks), for everyday public interactions, which involve different procedures for sound perception as well as singular ways to manage the daily flows, individually and collectively." 

Indian men infront of an painted bus
Christine Guillebaud

Christine Guillebaud

Social anthropologist and an ethnomusicologist, is a Research Fellow at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). She is the co-Director of the Research Centre for Ethnomusicology (CREM-LESC), located at the University of Paris Nanterre. Her academic interests include anthropology of sound, sound studies and the study of urban ambiances. She is currently leading the MILSON research program (, dedicated to the study of sound environments in their sociocultural context of production and perception. She has carried out long-term fieldworks in India and edited the volume Toward an Anthropology of Ambient Sound (Routledge, 2017) and co-edited Worship Sound Spaces. Architecture, Acoustics and Anthropology (Routledge, 2020). Previously, she has published numerous articles and edited volumes on musical creation, multimodality, cultural heritage, intellectual property and sound humour.