Aurality: Musical Modes of Knowledge Inscription

Seminar Series of the Research Group Music and Culture

Organizer: Barbara Titus (

In recent years, acquisitions and formations of knowledge and the dynamics of power that govern these formations are increasingly theorized through a renewed interest for the ear with physical, mechanical, organic, physiological, psychological and cognitive subject potential.

This seminar/workshop intends to engage with a wide range of modes of knowledge inscription and transmission through the employment of a variety of musicking acts (Small 1998, 9): we aim to voice a song or a praise or a judgement, we perform an argument or debate or encounter, we conceptualize a discourse, a movement, a process or gesture, we constitute synchronizations, disjunctions or confrontations, etc.. In doing so, the workshop intends to raise questions about technologies of transmission, dissemination and inscription of knowledge (sounds, imagery, speech, writing, performance, etc.) and the material on which they inscribe: memories, (human) bodies, paper, hard drives, or songs.

Thursday 14 March 2019

16:00-18:00 hours
Venue: Vondelzaal – Universiteitsbibliotheek Singel 425

Emily Hansell Clark (Columbia University), “Wiet Wiet, Kiaauw”: Birds and Men in Suriname and the Netherlands

On Sunday mornings in Paramaribo, Suriname, dozens of men gather in the central Independence Square to “race” twatwas, small songbirds native to the region. The birds are caged and trained to sing competitively in elaborate months-long tournaments that are considered a Surinamese national sport. The same birdsong competitions can also be witnessed in cities in the Netherlands, Suriname’s former colonizer, where the birds are both smuggled and bred.

My paper dialogues with ethnomusicology/sound studies/anthropology scholarship (Mundy 2018, Kohn 2013, Seeger 1987, Feld 1982) that considers birds and birdsong not as an aural realm of nature separate from the human, but rather as the grounds for taxonomies and discourses that organize human concerns and experiences of self in a world where nature and culture cannot be fully disentangled, whether in the densely green tropical climate of the Caribbean coast of South America or the cosmopolitan urban environment of the Dutch metropolis. I situate this examination in the context of historical representations of culture and nature, the civilized and the wild, as well as present-day concerns including freedom, migration, masculinity, and ecotourism.

Emily Hansell Clark is a PhD student in Ethnomusicology. She holds a BA in Ethnomusicology and Composition from Oberlin College and an MSIS (Information Studies) from the University of Texas at Austin with a focus in sound archives. Emily has long been interested in the archive as an area of phenomenological investigation, as well as in conceptualizations of preservation, tradition, and memory that lie outside of the modern Western archival institution. She is currently involved in a number of community-based repatriation projects with Columbia’s ethnomusicology archive. Drawing from over a decade of experience studying Javanese music and culture, Emily’s currently-developing dissertation project concerns ethnicity, migration, memory, governance, difference, and selfhood explored through fieldwork with ethnically Javanese musicians in Suriname and the Netherlands.

Thursday 4 April 2019

16:00-18:00 hours
Venue: Belle van Zuylenzaal – Universiteitsbibliotheek Singel 425

Attila Faravelli – Sound artist, The Aural Tools Project

Aural Tools uses editions of simple objects to document the material and conceptual processes of specific musicians’ sound production practice. It is a series of acoustic devices for relating sound to space, the listener, and the body in ways unavailable through traditional recorded media such as CDs or LPs.

Attila Faravelli lives and works in Milano (Italy). In his practice he explores the relationship between sound, space and body. His solo music is released by Die Schachtel and Senufo Editions. Together with Enrico Malatesta and Nicola Ratti he is founder of the sound performance trio ~Tilde. He presented his work in Europe, USA, China and South Korea. In 2010 he participated in the 12th International Biennial of Architecture in Venice. Since 2011 he curates The Lift, a series of experimental music concerts. He is founder and curator for the Aural Tools project.

Thursday 2 May 2019

16:00-18:00 hours
Venue: to be announced

Luc Rombouts (University Carillonneur, Leuven), Carillons: Musical Heritage of the Low Countries

For many centuries, tower bells served as voices of local authorities and structured the daily life of citizens in Europe. Some 500 years ago, people in the Low Countries transformed functional tower bells into musical instruments. This innovation was the first ‘music in the cloud’ – one may call it an alpha version of Spotify. Surprisingly, carillon music didn’t die out after the radio, CD’s and the internet arrived in order to offer a cheaper technology of bringing music to large audiences.

Today, the carillon is still a genuine part of the soundscape of the cities in Belgium and the Netherlands, and the carillon culture is gaining importance, as is demonstrated by the recognition by UNESCO of the carillon culture in Belgium. However, keeping this sonic heritage alive remains a challenge. How do carillonneurs manage in keeping their messages relevant? How can the old social medium of the carillon connect with the social media of today? How can the carillon contribute to the experience of time and space in the city? And is this geographically embedded musical culture transferable to other regions in Europe and beyond?

Luc Rombouts is city carillonneur of Tienen (Belgium) and university carillonneur of Leuven (Belgium), where he plays the carillons of the University Library and the Great Beguinage. He has given recitals in Europe and in the USA and has performed during festivals and congresses.

He wrote an award-winning book on carillon history, entitled Zingend brons. 500 jaar beiaardmuziek in de Oude en de Nieuwe Wereld (Davidsfonds, 2010). This book was published in English in 2014 under the title Singing Bronze. A History of Carillon Music (Leuven University Press / Cornell University Press). In 2016 he obtained a PhD degree cum laude from the University of Utrecht on a thesis about the origin of the carillon. Luc coordinated the project that led in 2014 to the recognition of the Belgian carillon culture as a best safeguarding practice in intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.

Thursday 27 June 2019

16:00-18:00 hours
Venue: University Theatre (Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16) – Theaterzaal

Juan Diego Díaz (University of California, Davis), Embodied Listening Capoeira Workshop

Capoeira is a Brazilian art combining, among others, instrumental music, song, dance, martial arts, ritual, and theatre, developed by enslaved Africans in the sixteenth century.

The workshop is accessible to all – no prior experience with music, dance or martial arts is required.  The workshop will include physical movement (learning ginga, the basic step of capoeira, plus one attack and one defense), rhythm (clapping the basic pattern and singing some of the berimbau variations), and song (learning the refrain of a couple of songs). Participants will learn how to correlate these three aspects of capoeira through exercises as a group and by couples. These moves and movements will be emphatically connected with “intellectual” exchanges with the participants, raising questions about the aural knowing, learning and experiencing of this practice.

Juan Diego Díaz is an ethnomusicologist with a geographic research interest in Africa and its diaspora, particularly Brazil and West Africa. He is interested in how African diasporic musics circulate and transform across the Atlantic and how they serve individuals and communities in identity formation. This research has produced a book called Tabom Voices: A History of the Ghanaian Afro-Brazilian Community in Their Own Words (2016) and the documentary film Tabom in Bahia (2017), documenting the visit of a Ghanaian master drummer to Bahia, Brazil.He uses a variety of approaches including close musical analysis, timeline theory, groove analysis, phenomenology of the body, and discourse analysis. He is also a long-term Capoeira Angola practitioner and has led capoeira and samba ensembles.


Replacement and replaceability: theoretical traditions and contemporary practices

Replacement and replaceability

Call for Abstracts for an edited volume titled: Replacement and replaceability: theoretical traditions and contemporary practices .

Departing from the idea that replacement and replaceability can be productive concepts for the study of cultural objects, we are looking for contributions from interdisciplinary scholars working on the interstices between different fields of knowledge such as comparative literature, philosophy, visual studies, gender and queer studies, feminist theory, post- and de- colonial theory, psychoanalysis, and contemporary art.

Our aim is to produce an edited and peer reviewed volume that contributes to an understanding of replacement and replaceability in relation to a broad range of notions such as conflict, visuality, photography, representation, witnessing, sacrifice, memory, the digital, performativity, and the environment. We are looking for proposals that stage a dialogue between the notion of replacement on the one hand and an object of study on the other. The aim is to

theorize what replacement might signify for us today, and how it can help us figure out how it can be a significant tool for the study of cultural phenomena. We would like to trace replacement back to some of its more traditional theoretical roots, drawing on traditions ranging from Marxism to Psychoanalysis and from Nietzsche to more recent French theory, all the while remaining attentive to the possible contemporary usefulness of the concept of replacement for the study of culture.

Hearing the words replacement and replaceability, we wonder: Who or what is being replaced? Who is doing the replacing? What counts as replaceable? Is there a logic of replacement? What happens when bodies are deemed replaceable for other bodies? Or for machines? Is replaceability a notion that can be productive for the study of violence inflicted upon the environment? How does replacement communicate with other concepts such as translation, repetition, reiteration, quotation, citation, metaphor, metonymy, synechdoche, and displacement? And how does it acquire meaning in relation to concepts taken from different traditions, like precariousness, simulacrum, spectacle, ideology, object-subject relationships, trauma, and violence? Are fantasies of replaceability exclusively violent, or sometimes necessary, as in the case of renewable energy sources coming to replace oil and coal? How does the concept of replacement travel between different discourses? How can replacement or

replaceability be made useful for the study of cultural objects? And which objects warrant their use? It is on these and related questions that we invite abstracts for papers.

We invite proposals for contributions in the form of an abstract in which replacement or replaceability are used either as concepts of analysis, put into dialogue with a cultural object, or in which the concepts themselves come under theoretical scrutiny. Proposals should be no longer than 250 words and have to be sent to before March 1 st 2019 for peer review.

The proposed volume will include contributions from participants to a two day conference that took place in Lisbon in December of 2018, and contributions from people outside of that conference who are interested in these themes alike. The editors will announce the publishing house as soon as possible.

Sara Magno, Jad Khairallah & Ilios Willemars.

Neurohumanities: Promises & Threats

IX Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture

Lisbon, July 1-6, 2019


Deadline for submissions: February 28, 2019

When the US government declared the 1990s “The decade of the brain”, it aimed at raising public awareness toward the use of neuroscience for the enhancement of life quality and as a way to better address the challenges of growing life expectancy. The initiative was further supported by substantial research funding, which not only impressed public opinion but appealed to many research fields. Finding a link to brain research and the processes of the human mind, many disciplines were repositioned and adopted the “neuro” prefix, promising new insights into age-old problems by reframing them from the angle of the brain-mind continuum.

Neuroscience seeks to explain how the brain works and which neurophysiological processes are involved in complex cognitive abilities like sensation and perception attention and reasoning, memory and thought.

One of the most striking and unique features of the human mind is its capacity to represent realities that transcend its immediate time and space, by engaging complex symbolic systems, most notably language, music, arts and mathematics. Such sophisticated means for representation are arguably the result of an environmental pressure and must be accounted for in a complex network of shared behaviors, mimetic actions and collaborative practices: in other words, through human culture. The cultural products that are enabled by these systems are also stored by means of representation in ever-new technological devices, which allow for the accumulation and sharing of knowledge beyond space and across time.

The artifacts and practices that arise from the symbolic use, exchange and accumulation are the core of the research and academic field known as the Humanities. The field has been increasingly interested in the latest developments deriving from neuroscience and the affordances they allow about the conditions and processes of the single brain, embedded in an environment, in permanent exchange with other brains in an ecology that is culturally coded.

This turn of the humanities to neuroscience is embraced by many and fiercely criticized by others. The promise of the Neurohumanities, the neuroscientifically informed study of cultural artifacts, discourses and practices, lies in unveiling the link between embodied processes and the sophistication of culture. And it has the somewhat hidden agenda of legitimizing the field, by giving it a science-close status of relevance and social acknowledgement it has long lacked. Here, though, lies also its weakness: should the Humanities become scientific? Can they afford to do so? Should they be reduced to experimental methodologies, collaborative research practices, sloppy concept travelling, transvestite interdisciplinarity? Is the promise of the Neurohumanities, seen by some as the ultimate overcoming of the science-humanities or the two cultures divide, in fact not only ontologically and methodologically impossible and more than that undesirable? And how will fields like Neuroaesthetics, Cognitive Literary Theory, Cognitive Linguistics, Affect Theory, Second-person Neuroscience, Cognitive Culture Studies or Critical Neuroscience relate to the emerging omnipresence and challenges of Artificial Intelligence?

The IX Summer School for the Study of Culture invites participants to submit paper and poster proposals that critically consider the developments of the Neurohumanities in the past decades and question its immediate and future challenges and opportunities. Paper proposals are encouraged in but not limited to the following topics:

  • 4E Cognition: embodied, embedded, enacted and extended
  • performance and the embodied mind
  • spectatorship and simulation
  • from individual to social cognition
  • mental imagery
  • empathy
  • memory, culture and cultural memory
  • cognition and translatability
  • mind-body problem
  • life enhancement
  • neuro-power
  • (neuro)humanities and social change
  • AI, cognition and culture

The Summer School will take place at several cultural institutions in Lisbon and will gather outstanding doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers from around the world. In the morning there will be lectures and master classes by invited keynote speakers. In the afternoon there will be paper presentations by doctoral students.

Paper proposals

Proposals should be sent to no later than February 28, 2019 and include paper title, abstract in English (max. 200 words), name, e-mail address, institutional affiliation and a brief bio (max. 100 words) mentioning ongoing research.

Applicants will be informed of the result of their submissions by March 15, 2019.

Rules for presentation

The organizing committee shall place presenters in small groups according to the research focus of their papers. They are advised to stay in these groups for the duration of the Summer School, so a structured exchange of ideas may be developed to its full potential.

Full papers submission

Presenters are required to send in full papers by May 30, 2019.

The papers will then be circulated amongst the members of each research group and in the slot allotted to each participant (30’), only 10’ may be used for a brief summary of the research piece. The Summer School is a place of networked exchange of ideas and organizers wish to have as much time as possible for a structured discussion between participants. Ideally, in each slot, 10’ will be used for presentation, and 20’ for discussion.

Registration fees

Participants with paper – 290€ for the entire week (includes lectures, master classes, doctoral sessions, lunches and closing dinner)

Participants without paper – 60€ per session/day | 190€ for the entire week

Fee waivers

For The Lisbon Consortium students, there is no registration fee.

For students from Universities affiliated with the European Summer School in Cultural Studies (such as ASCA) and members of the Excellence Network in Cultural Studies the registration fee is 60€.

Organizing Committee

  • Isabel Capeloa Gil
  • Peter Hanenberg
  • Alexandra Lopes
  • Paulo de Campos Pinto
  • Diana Gonçalves
  • Clara Caldeira
  • Rita Bacelar

Comedy, Humourlessness and the Gimmick

8 Februari, 10:00-13:00 hrs
PCHooft, room 4.22

Reading Session Berlant & Ngai on Comedy, Humourlessness and the Gimmick. Organized by Eva Sancho Rodriguez and Esther Peeren.

“Comedy has issues” is the opening argument of a special issue edited by two leading authors in affect theory. Join us for a reading session devoted to the new issue of Critical Inquiry, edited by Lauren Berlant (author of Cruel Optimism) and Sianne Ngai (Ugly Feelings, Our Aesthetic Categories). In this session, we will concentrate on discussing the texts listed below, which we kindly ask you to read beforehand.

  • Berlant, Lauren, & Ngai, Sianne. (2017). “Comedy Has Issues” Critical Inquiry,  43, no. 2 (Winter 2017): 233-249.
  • Berlant, Lauren. “Humorlessness (Three Monologues and a Hairpiece)” 305-340.
  • Sianne Ngai, “Theory of the Gimmick” 466-505.

The text on humourlessness builds on the work Lauren Berlant presented here at ASCA during her workshop in 2015.

Organizers: Eva Sancho Rodriguez & Esther Peeren. Please email Eva ( to receive a link to the readings.

Launch First Issue of Soapbox: Practices of Listening

Soapbox Issue 1.1 Launch: Practices of Listening
28 February 2019, 20:00 – 21:30

SPUI25, Spui 25-27 | 1012 WX, Amsterdam

On February 28, student-run journal Soapbox will launch their first issue with a celebratory evening at SPUI25.

The event will feature a discussion with the authors of Soapbox 1.1. Presenting a variety of perspectives on the concept and practices of listening, these graduate researchers will come together to discuss the common thread of their work: perhaps it is less what we say that affects our social and political condition, than the various ways in which diverse practices of listening take place. For these writers, acts of listening are not simply an individual choice, but rather subject to infrastructural distributions of listening channels – aesthetic, technological, and political – amplifying voices from some directions and muting those from others.

While we may have always been talking, the practice of listening is undergoing a transformation. For this event, Soapbox, a graduate journal for cultural analysis, invites the authors of this first issue to discuss their work on the conditions, practices, and policies of listening in political protest, speech to text software, and audiovisual ‘time crystals’.

New practices of listening come at us from all sides, complicating rules, relations, and expectations set in place by the old. Emerging forms of political activism and the cacophony of digitally distributed voices make the act of directing attention itself politically saturated, while speech recognition software and audiovisual distribution platforms tether the listener to the listened to in new and unexpected ways. Presenting a variety of perspectives on and examples of listening, these graduate researchers share one idea: 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. For them, acts of listening are not simply an individual choice, but rather subject to infrastructural distributions of listening channels, both aesthetic, technological, and political – amplifying voices from some directions and muting those from others.

Soapbox is an open-access platform for cultural analysis, run by students from the University of Amsterdam. Its website and each biannual issue both give the floor to students, PhDs and young researchers, publishing forward-thinking and experimental work on a broad range of cultural artefacts, concepts and phenomena.