Past Events

Click the boxes below to read about past events.  

2023-24 Thematic Series  

Professor Tamara Mitchell, The University of British Columbia (FHIS)
"Sound Unseen: Auscultating Gendered Violence in Mexican Fiction"
Thursday, February 29, 5:00-6:30PM  | Green College Coach House

Talk to be followed by Q&A and catered charcuterie and wine reception in the Green College Piano Lounge.

Thinking with Nietzsche, Peter Szendy asserts that auscultation—or listening to the sound of spacing—allows the philosopher “to make quiet things—mute things—‘speak out’” (133). The present study attunes to spatialized sonority in the Mexican author Guadalupe Nettel’s Después del invierno (After the Winter 2014) and La hija única (Still Born 2020) as a means of sensing the invisible but pervasive domestic violence experienced by nearly a third of women globally. Meditating on this reality, the present study reads Nettel’s fiction as a reflection on our collective inability to perceive gendered violence due to patriarchal social norms and structural misogyny. Intimate partner abuse often occurs behind closed doors and is therefore easily disregarded. In line with this out-of-sight-out-of-mind logic, Tamara Mitchell shows how Nettel’s sonic novels turn to the sense of hearing to bear witness to the violence suffered by women in Mexico and elsewhere. In dialogue with Sound Studies scholars Michel Chion, Kaja Silverman and Szendy, Tamara illustrates how the works’ narrative soundscapes become a means of indexing and critiquing the invisible misogyny of the novels’ pages, which in turn index the structural misogyny that gives invisible form to our common modes of perception. In particular, she listens for acousmatic sound (sound out of view of the protagonist-listener) and auscultation (the sounds of spacing) to suss out how violence may be out of sight, but it is still perceptible to those willing to listen for it.


Tamara Mitchell is Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies at UBC and works at the intersection of politics and aesthetics in contemporary Latin American narrative fiction. Her current research interests are deeply attuned to the role of sound in narrative fiction, and she is working on a SSHRC-funded monograph entitled Sounds of the Capitalocene: Violence and Aurality in the Contemporary Mexican Novel. That project posits that literary aurality is employed in recent fiction as a means of responding to and critiquing economic and ecological crises.

She is founding Director of the Sound and the Humanities Research Cluster, co-convener of the Latin American Sound Studies Working Group (2020-present), and co-editor of a special issue on “Latin American Literary Aurality” Revista de Estudios Hispánicos (October 2023).

Professor Casey Mecija, York University
“Sounds That Mark Our Words: Sonic Agencies & Intimacies in the Filipinx Diaspora”
Thursday, January 25, 5:00-6:30PM  | Green College Coach House

In this presentation, Dr. Casey Mecija considered how sound offers a methodological framework that uniquely captures slippages between affect and the emotional conflicts of racism, homophobia and national belonging. In doing so, she offered a theory of “queer sound” that considers how sonicity might be used as a conceptual resource for making sense of the affective and psychic lives of diasporic communities, particularly Filipinx. She emphasized how—in the queer valences of sound—we might take notice of empathies and capacities for Asian diasporic desires that are otherwise repressed or disregarded. In discussing how this works, her presentation includes examples of Filipinx aesthetic expression, such as music, viral new media such as a YouTube karaoke performance, and other sounds that may be characterized as coincidental or mundane. These sonic moments offer insight into the many ways that diasporic people practice care and enliven creativity and repair from colonial violence across multiple geographic spaces, such as Canada and the Philippines.

Talk was followed by Q&A and catered charcuterie and wine reception in the Green College Piano Lounge.

Casey Mecija is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies at York University. Her current research examines sound as a mode of affective, psychic and social representation, specifically in relation to diasporic experience. Drawing on sound studies, queer diaspora studies, and Filipinx Studies, her research considers how sensorial encounters are enmeshed and disciplined by social and psychic conditions. In this work, she theorizes sounds made in and beyond Filipinx diaspora to make an argument about “queer sound” that permeates diasporic sensibilities. She is also a musician and filmmaker whose work has received several accolades and has been presented internationally. (Photo credit: May Truong.)

Pre-Lecture Listening Group

In anticipation of Prof. Mecija’s visit, there was a listening & discussion group on Monday, January 15, 1-2PM, Buchanan Tower 726. We invited participants to listen to Mecija’s original sound work, “Sounds that Mark Our Words” (Psychic Materials, 2016), and to check out the short text “Blank Space and ‘Asymmetries of Childhood Innocence'” (Sounding Out! Feb 2020). We began by listening to the track together, then we shared reactions and discussed Mecija’s creative and scholarly work.

Listening & Reading Group facilitated by Dr. Rosanne Sia (GRSJ) and Grad Affiliate Anna Navarro (English).

Professor Luis E. Cárcamo-Huechante
The University of Texas at Austin and Comunidad de Historia Mapuche
Thursday, November 30, 5:00-6:30PM
Green College Coach House

"In Times of Acoustic Colonialism: The Enduring Sounds of the Mapuche"
Livestream link; To ask a question virtually: Open Slido in another tab or window (event code is 2985 808)

Professor Cárcamo-Huechante's talk offered a critical analysis on some of the ways in which radio, music and language have become sites for what he terms as “Indigenous interferences” by Mapuche singers, artists and media activists in what is today known as Chile. In his view, these forms of Indigenous agency in the sphere of sound disrupts the airwaves of what he calls "acoustic colonialism," that is, the aural and sonic regime by which the Chilean state and settler agents have deployed linguistic, environmental, and technological sounds in efforts to culturally and racially marginalize or assimilate the Mapuche people while exercising a colonial logic of territorial occupation and dispossession in native lands. Mapuche radiophonic, musical and linguistic interferences embody aural, cultural and political manifestations of an “enduring indigeneity” that challenges the hegemonic waves of acoustic colonialism.

LUIS E. CÁRCAMO-HUECHANTE is a Mapuche scholar. He is currently the Director of the Program in Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) and an Associate Professor of Spanish at The University of Texas at Austin. Between 2019 and this year, he served as a member of the Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA). Professor Cárcamo-Huechante is a founding member of the Comunidad de Historia Mapuche, which is a collective of Mapuche researchers/activists based in southern Chile. In 2007, he published his first book, Tramas del mercado: imaginación económica, cultura pública y literatura en el Chile de fines del siglo veinte (Santiago: Editorial Cuarto Propio). Professor Cárcamo-Huechante has just completed his second book, titled Indigenous Interferences: Acoustic Colonialism and Mapuche Response, which is now under review at a major university press in the United States.

Prof. Christina Sharpe, York University
"What Could a Vessel Be?"
Thursday, October 19, 4:30-6PM*
Great Hall, Graham House (2nd floor), Green College
*Please note the adjusted start time and location for this event!

"I wanted to write about silences and terror and acts that hover over generations, over centuries. I began by writing about my mother and grandmother." (Ordinary Notes, p. 26, "Note 18")

Headshot of scholar Christina Sharpe.

Through quiet and cacophony, word and image, criticism and memoir, mourning and grief, Christina Sharpe's Ordinary Notes meditates on her life and intellectual formation in the midst of an anti-Black world, taking readers into the core of Black life. "What Could a Vessel Be?" continues these reflections, proposing an exploration of the word/concept/idea of the vessel in times of catastrophe.

CHRISTINA SHARPE is a writer, Professor, and Canada Research Chair in Black Studies in the Humanities at York University in Toronto. She is the author of In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Duke University Press, 2016)—named by the Guardian and the Walrus as one of the best books of 2016 and a nonfiction finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award—and Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects (Duke University Press, 2010), as well as Ordinary Notes (Knopf Canada, 2023). Ordinary Notes has been shortlisted for the 2023 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Canadian Nonfiction and longlisted for the 2023 U.S. National Book Award for Nonfiction.

The Sound Cluster thanks Professor Kimberly Bain of UBC's English Department, who was the faculty lead on this event.

September 28, (3-4:30PM). This was the first event in the Sound Power Silence series, led by Cluster Affiliate Duncan McHugh. The Campus Soundwalk began at Sopron Gate (Main Mall & Sopron Lane, near Forestry) and ended up at Green College around 4PM. After the walk, we briefly reflected on the experience in the Green College Coach House. We invited people to read Hildegard Westerkamp's “Soundwalking” in anticipation of the walk, but the reading is optional!

The walk was followed by a catered reception and launch party (4:30-6PM) in the Green College Piano Room to celebrate the start of the series. Series co-convenors Tamara Mitchell (FHIS) and Rosanne Sia (GRSJ) introduced our faculty collaborators, and guests had a chance to win a book or sound work by one of our amazing visiting speakers.

2022-23 Thematic Series  

Professor Trevor Reed, ASU
"Restorative Justice for Indigenous Voices"
March 7, 2:30-4PM, Great Performers Lounge

Dr. Trevor Reed, Hopi scholar and Associate Professor of Law (Arizona State University), who works at the intersection of the arts, intellectual property, and Indigenous rights gave a research presentation at the the Great Performers Lounge of the Chan Centre, on Tuesday, March 7, from 2:30-4PM. The talk was followed by Q&A and a reception with refreshments.

Here is a short abstract of the talk:

An image of a desert landscape with a grapevine in the foreground. The land is part of Hopi traditional territory.

Reed's talk touches on the relationship among song, plants, and homeland, including above Hopi orchard.

The mass expropriation of Indigenous peoples’ voices, identities, knowledges, and performances to European-settler institutions and their publics continues to impact Indigenous communities today. For centuries, Indigenous creativity and expression have been captured and exploited, often in violation of Indigenous peoples’ laws, protocols, and standards of care. Institutions today must grapple with their legacies of intellectual and cultural abuse towards Indigenous peoples and emerging industry norms that increasingly demand respect for Indigenous rights, while also continuing to fulfill their missions to make knowledge resources available and accessible to the public, to the extent allowed by law. This paper seeks to further conversations regarding repair and redress for institutionalized cultural abuses by advocating for the infusion of restorative justice theory into archival practice and intellectual property management. (Image courtesy of Prof. Reed)

Co-convened by xwélmexw (Stó:lō/Skwah) artist, curator and writer, Professor Dylan Robinson (UBC School of Music) and Professor Julen Etxabe (Allard School of Law), Reed's talk was the second event in the Cluster's Spring 2023 Series on Indigenous Knowledge, Law & Sound.

Co-sponsored with the UBC School of Music and the Peter Allard School of Law we hosted a breakfast conversation for graduate students interested in getting to know Professor Reed and discussing a short reading together.

Attendees were encouraged to read Trevor's brilliant 2019 article, "Sonic Sovereignty: Performing Hopi Authority in Öngtupqa" to facilitate conversation. The breakfast took place take on Tuesday, March 7, from 8:30 - 10:00AM in Buchanan Tower 726.

The first event of the series was a reading group discussion of scholarship by Prof. Robinson: the recent article, "Reparative Interpellation" (2022), and chapter 2 of the award-winning Hungry Listening: Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies (2020). Robinson was present for the event, which took place Tuesday, February 7, from 2:30-4PM in the Great Performers Lounge of the Chan Centre.

Four lucky graduate students also received four copies of Hungry Listening in a book giveaway!

Virtual talk by Professor Tom McEnaney, UC Berkeley
"Stop Listening: Surveillance, Sound, Sexuality, and Race in Manuel Puig's Kiss of the Spider Woman"

In collaboration with the Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies, the Cluster hosted Prof. Tom McEnaney of the Departments of Comparative Literature and Spanish & Portuguese at the University of California, Berkeley, for our Fall Event Series. Prof. McEnaney's November talk was preceded by two reading group sessions on his work and the theme of the lecture.

Abstract: This talk focuses on sound and media in Argentine author Manuel Puig's The Buenos Aires Affair and Kiss of the Spider Woman. McEnaney discusses how, by taping interviews with prisoners of the Argentine military government, Puig seeks to derive a technique of listening and writing that would oppose the apparent surveillance of modernist literary form.

Reading Group, Session 2: Tom McEnaney's "Real-to-Reel" and Simone Browne's Dark Matters

To gear up for our Fall Invited Speaker, our second reading group session will discuss Tom McEnaney's 2017 article, "Real-to-Reel: Social Indexicality, Sonic Materiality, and Literary Media Theory in Eduardo Costa’s Tape Works" and the introduction of Simone Browne's Dark Matters. Access a PDF of the two pieces here.

Join us in Buchanan Tower 831 on Friday, November 4, from 3-4PM! We'll have refreshments and, most importantly, stimulating conversation about McEnaney's and Browne's work. This is a read-all-that-you-can discussion group, so if you can't make it through both pieces, no problem! We do suggest that you prioritize McEnaney's article, as it is the more sonically-oriented of the two readings.

Friday, October 14 – Saturday, October 15

See full schedule here

Reading Group, Session 1: Tom McEnaney's Acoustic Properties

To gear up for our Fall Invited Speaker, our first reading group session discussed the Introduction, "Learning to Listen," and Chapter 7, "The Ends of Radio: Tape, Property, and Popular Voice," of Prof. McEnaney's Acoustic Properties (Northwestern UP 2017).

Research Cluster Kickoff Meeting

Join us for a meet and greet and to discuss initial plans for the Research Cluster. Enjoy light refreshments while we discuss the Fall Event Series, Cluster roles, and other activities and details. If you haven't filled out the info-gathering survey, we invite you to so here.