While we may have always been talking, the conditions of listening are changing. The essays gathered in the first issue of Soapbox take seriously the idea that perhaps it is less what we say that affects our social and political condition than the various ways in which what we call the practices of listening take place.
New practices of listening come at us from all sides, complicating rules, relations, and expectations set in place by the old. Whether it is through emerging forms of political activism, odd weather patterns, or the cacophony of digitally distributed voices, everywhere directing attention becomes a political act. The authors contributing to this issue depart from the premise that this act is not so much a matter of individual choice, but rather one of infrastructural distribution of listening channels – one that amplifies voices from some directions and mutes those from others. This acoustic architecture reproduces socio-economic structures, for example by shaping the rights to silence or to make noise in urban environments. Or it affects relationships among bodies in assemblage, between human and nature, the organic and inorganic, or across temporalities and territories. In short, this issue unites scholarship on listening across species, senses, processes and patterns and through our sonic worlds. As such, the present conception of listening is not only about voices from minority groups in certain political climates, rather it is about the specific practices, techniques, and policies of listening that sustain or prevent these voices.
We are also publishing articles written around the theme ‘Practices of Listening’, exclusively on the Soapbox website. Read more here.