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Sonic Contestations of Nuclear Power

Posted: May 24th, 2015 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

Noriko Manabe (Princeton) and Jessica Schwartz (UCLA) are preparing the edited volume, Sonic Contestations of Nuclear Power. This work will consist of academic essays or personal testimonials of approximately 5,000 words, as well as creative works. We have already received commitments from a number of notable authors and creators, and we are looking for a few additional essays to round out the volume. Our preliminary table of contents has met with great enthusiasm from a university press. We have also received substantial funding from the Centre for Human Values at Princeton University, which will host a workshop for contributors in late October 2015.

Over the last fifteen years, the growth of musicological scholarship on the Cold War, sound studies, and ethnomusicological accounts of violence and protest have formed a robust intellectual platform from which sound-based scholarship on the nuclear phenomenon can dialogue with extant literature from the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Furthermore, the expansion of nuclear power and weapons—not only during the Cold War, but also recently in Asia, the Middle East, and other regions— has inspired musicians to write pieces protesting these developments or engage in debate. In this edited collection, we plan to bring together critical approaches to the pervasive sonorousness of the nuclear phenomenon—from historical reconstructions of the soundscapes of United States’ uranium mines to present-day antinuclear protests worldwide in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. We are including work that covers different historical moments, geographical regions, and conceptions of sound, music, media, and performance. We also aim to include the voices of practicing musicians, in the form of self-authored essays, compositions, or interviews. By placing these diverse accounts of sonic responses to nuclear power, we offer a timely, comparative approach that engages broad questions, such as:

  • How has nuclear power shifted discursive, listening, and music-making possibilities at different historical moments and in distinct cultural locales?
  • What are the functions that music plays in nuclear discourse? How do they offer alternative perspectives on nuclear damage or possibilities for restoration or restorative justice? How does music for healing differ from music for protest?
  • How have musicians responded to the nuclear debate?
  • How might musical communities, studied as individual case studies or as part of global nuclear culture, share affective economies or cultural nuances? How do cultural differences play into expression? How are the musical dynamics different between direct victims and outsiders?
  • How does a focus on the sonic and performance-based dimensions of the nuclear phenomenon challenge some of the basic presumptions of nuclear scholarship that situates text (e.g. lyric) and image (e.g. iconic mushroom cloud) at the centre of analysis?
  • What are the connections between music addressing nuclear issues and other environmental concerns?

With this project, we aim to contribute to existing conversations in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences on the networks of power surrounding the nuclear debate. We are appealing to a wide readership that extends beyond music and sound studies scholars, given the international interest in our collective work.

While we are open to many suggestions, we are particularly interested in writers about French nuclear power, Native American communities affected by weapons testing or uranium mining, countries currently expanding nuclear power or weapons (e.g., North Korea, China, India, Pakistan, the Middle East), sonic responses to nuclear fuel reprocessing or waste disposal, and American songs about the bomb in the early years of the Cold War.

If you are interested in contributing, please send a title, abstract of about 250–300 words, and a short biography to sonic.nuclear at gmail dot com by June 12, 2015.

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