African Sound Studies – Panel 2021 ASA

African Sound Studies Panel

 2021 African Studies Association Meeting

Sound studies has exploded over the past decade, drawing heightened attention to how sound and sonic media shape both the everyday and the exceptional. But even as sound studies has attended closely to questions of racialization and colonial legacies, its methodologies and objects are largely rooted in the Global North (Steingo and Sykes, 2019; Olaniyan and Radando, 2016). Music historians and ethnomusicologists have long theorized music’s place in African soundscapes more broadly (Agawu 1993; Meintjes 2007). More recently, work in Black sound studies (Jaji 2014; Weheliye 2005) has highlighted sound’s transcontinental affiliations and ontological significance for racial identity; theorists of media and popular culture (Larkin 2008; Gunner et. al. 1995, 2019) have explored the role of orature, radio, and other forms. We are interested in bringing together insights from across these fields to foster a discussion of sound rooted in Africa, Afrocentric thought, local experience, and indigenous frameworks. This panel seeks scholars working on topics across disciplines, regions, and media to understand the position of Africa in sound studies and theories of sound coming out of Africa.


Topics might include:

– Indigenous and local approaches to sound in Africa;
– Sound across media: sound in digital, visual and print culture;
– Sound’s mediation of and in African political life;
– African sonic epistemologies and ontologies;
– Policing of voice, accent, and sonic publics;
– African soundings, sound art, soundscapes…
– Sound in/and protest;
– Histories of audio technology in Africa;
– Localizing sound studies: developing Afrocentric approaches;
– Cultural rights and traditional music.


Email abstracts to Susanna Sacks ( and Scott Newman ( by March 22, 2021. Please feel free to send us expressions of interest or questions before that date.