2023-24 Thematic Series

Sound Silence Power

Attending to sound opens up myriad potentialities. While, historically, silence has been wielded as an instrument of oppression, and listening practices have served to categorize acoustic expressions into hierarchical binaries–sound/noise, melody/racket, speech/babel, human voice/animal howl–recent scholars, practitioners, and ordinary people have become attuned to the ways in which sound and listening may prove a potent source of empowerment, resistance, and care. This series attends to the decolonizing and disruptive potential of sound in its many manifestations. Through a speaker series with some of the most dynamic thinkers in humanistic sound studies, as well as reading groups and a capstone symposium, participants are invited to note the entanglement of sound, silence, and power in our everyday lives, politics, and dwelling.

Join us for invited speakers exploring the potentialities of sound from a diversity of disciplinary perspectives, including Black Studies, Indigenous Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, More-than-Human Geographies, Transpacific Studies, Decolonial Studies, and Disability Studies.

Save the Dates!


  • January 25, 5-6:30PM: Prof. Casey Mecija, York University. “Sounds That Mark Our Words: Sonic Agencies & Intimacies in Filipinx Diaspora.”
    • Don’t miss the January 15 pre-lecture listening group (like a reading group for the ears!) on Mecija’s creative work.
  • February 29, 5-6:30PM: Prof. Tamara Mitchell, UBC. “Sound Unseen: Auscultating Gender Violence in Mexican Fiction”
  • April 17, 5-6:30PM: Prof. Jonathan Sterne, McGill University. Unfortunately, the Jonathan Sterne event must be postponed due to personal circumstances. We look forward to hosting Prof. Sterne in 2025-2026!

Unless otherwise noted, series lectures are held at the Green College Coach House. Check out the Cluster Events page for details about upcoming events.

Past Events in the Series

FALL 2023
September 28: “Campus Soundwalk” + Kickoff Party, led by Cluster Affiliate Duncan McHugh, UBC
October 19: Prof. Christina Sharpe, York University. “What Could a Vessel Be?
November 30: Prof. Luis Cárcamo-Huechante, University of Texas at Austin. “In Times of Acoustic Colonialism: The Enduring Sounds of the Mapuche

Co-convened by Tamara Mitchell (FHIS) and Rosanne Sia (GRSJ), the Sound Silence Power thematic series is held in collaboration with Green College, whose support we are grateful for. We also thank the ongoing support of the Public Humanities Hub and the UBC Faculty of Arts. Finally, we are grateful to the UBC Faculty Leads on each event: Duncan McHugh (Land & Food Systems), Kimberly Bain (English), Kim Beauchesne (FHIS), Rosanne Sia (GRSJ), and Lisa Coulthard (Film), respectively.