CTM 2021: Manila Men (remix): Sonus and Sonic Migrations

CTM 2021: Manila Men (remix): Sonus and Sonic Migrations

I will be presenting a collaborative lecture-performance at the CTM Festival 2021, in collaboration with (in order of appearance): Lonneke van Heugten, Pepe Dayaw, Ariel Orah, Ram de Jesus, Jean Barcena, Julien Enzanza, Hyeisoo Kim, Thijs van den Geest, Taïca Replansky, Daphne Brunet


The arrival of modernity is often hailed in visual terms, and perhaps even more so with the heraldry of its concomitant proliferation of sound and how this sound is perceived and categorised within modern societies. In my research, I inquire into the process of »acoustemology« (or acoustic epistemology, Steven Feld 1996). What kind of »acoustemes« do hearing and listening reveal in 19th century modernity and the modern epistemologies of race in colonial spaces?

To understand how modernity and the volatile imagination of race were imagined, heard, and embodied, I develop my theory of the Anthropology of Sound. Through this framework, I argue that the sound of modernity is inextricably intertwined with its mediated form (music) and its (racialised) embodiment. I also propose my concept of the »sonus« to separate the materiality of sound from its epistemological construction. In thinking through the intersection of the three I ask: where does meaning lie: in the body, the sound, or the sonus?

Through a digital remix lecture created for CTM, I elaborate these ideas using the case of the migrant Manila musicians who have traversed the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans in the last four centuries. Within these historical contexts, I reflect on how their »soni« and racialised embodiment of modernities became the very juncture where simultaneous claims and contestations of national, imperial, and global imaginings of modernity were silenced and resounded. Such claims were intertwined in how race was contested in the intersection of the (de)colonised/ing musicians’ bodies and their embodied performance of the multicultural musical repertoire.

Update: You can now view the video online. Jump to Timecode 42:25 for the Manila Mex (remix).

[Header Photo Credit: Still from the »Listening as Relation, an Invocation« lecture-performance by AM Kanngieser and Zoe Todd. Image by Zoe Todd]