'Crude sonics: field recordings from an extractive zone' by Zsuzsanna Ihar (University of Cambridge)

An MP4 track begins to play. It can be described as a playlist of lore, song, and the miscellaneous sounds of the quotidian captured in Azerbaijan's capital city, Baku. Morning chatter harmonises with the creaks of nodding donkeys, ashik poetry reverberates in courtyard restaurants, and hammers strike against corroded oil tanks — an aural portmanteau of a former industrial landscape still heaving with activity and life. Such sounds contradict the controlled soundscapes of the new post-industrial Baku, where bulldozers rip through neighbourhoods still reeling from mass evictions and silence settles on recently unveiled luxury developments. By examining field recordings captured in the outskirts, fringes, and remaining marginal settlements of Baku, the presentation will trace sounds that haunt, interrupt, and resist processes of gentrification, displacement, and capitalist profiteering. In particular, the talk will focus on conspiratorial (or 'crude') sonics — ghost stories, urban legends, and folksongs which cut through the modern secular city project.

Zsuzsanna D. Ihar is a historian of science based at the University of Cambridge.

Departmental Seminar Series Hilary 2023

3.15pm, Fridays of Weeks 1-8. On Teams only in Weeks 2, 4 and 5, otherwise in 64 Banbury Road and on Teams.

Teams link.

The Seminar is replaced in Week 6 by the Geoffrey Harrison Prize Lecture which takes place at 3.15pm on 24 February in 64 Banbury Road.

Convened by Javier Lezaun and Eben Kirksey