cfp: Sonic Engagement: The ethics and aesthetics of community engaged audio practice

Please see below for editorial contacts and instructions for initial submissions.

Edited by Sarah Woodland (Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, University of Melbourne, Australia) and Wolfgang Vachon (School of Social and Community Services, Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Canada) 

Due for publication in early 2022 

About the book 

This edited collection aims to investigate the use of sound and audio production in community engaged participatory arts practice and research. The popularity of podcast and audio drama, combined with the accessibility and portability of affordable field recording and home studio equipment, makes audio a compelling mode of participatory creative practice. Working in audio enables a flexible approach to participation, where collaborators in sites such as prisons, schools, and community settings, can engage in performance and production in flexible ways, while learning valuable skills and producing satisfying creative outcomes. Audio works also allow projects to reach wider audience (and for longer) than an ephemeral performance event, extending the potential for diverse perspectives to be heard beyond prison walls, across borders, and between different communities and cultures.

The book will map current projects occurring globally and imagine where participatory audio creation could lead us. This will be done through a series of case study chapters that exemplify community engaged creative audio practice; theoretical analyses that illuminate and extend ideas of community-created sound practices; and methodological considerations in developing and implementing participatory audio-based research. 

Chapters will focus on audio and sound based arts practices that are undertaken by artists and arts-led researchers in collaboration with (or from within) communities and groups. These practices may include: Applied audio drama, community engaged podcasting, community engaged sound art, sound and verbatim theatre, sound walks, community engaged acoustic ecology, digital storytelling, oral history and reminiscence, radio drama in health and community development … and more. (Please note: Although some of these practices may incorporate music and there can be crossover between certain forms of sound art and music, the work in this collection will not have music as its primary focus). 

The emphasis will be on collaborative creative audio-based work with communities towards artistic, social, pedagogical, and/or research outcomes.  

Call for Contributions 

We are seeking contributions from practitioners and researchers that consider the ethics, aesthetics, and practice of the work, investigating the role of sound in areas such as community building, wellbeing, education, and social or environmental justice. Contributors will be welcome to submit non-traditional papers, including interview transcripts, scripts, and audio files (for inclusion on the online Routledge Performance Archive). Contributions will represent a breadth of different practices and voices, across diverse community, cultural, and global contexts. Authors may consider (but are not limited to): 

•                    What are some of the tensions and possibilities of using sound and audio in community engaged arts practice? 

•                    What contribution can creative sound and audio practice make as an arts-led, participatory research methodology?   

•                    How might activist approaches to creative sound and audio practice work from within communities to resist existing structures of power and knowledge? (E.g. how might these approaches contribute to feminist, queer, decolonising or antiracist actions and discourses?) 

•                    What contribution can sound and audio technologies make towards supporting and strengthening situated, local, or cultural knowledges and practices? 

•                    What are the aesthetic implications of using sound and audio in community engaged arts practice? How does working in sound/audio impact on aesthetic engagement, listening, representation, and cultural production?  

•                    What are the ethical implications of using sound and audio in community engaged arts practice? What tensions and opportunities exist in terms of access, equity, participation, ownership, and voice? 

•                    What role do creative sound and audio practices play for communities responding to contemporary global crises, events, and movements such as the climate crisis, migration and displacement, COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, Hong Kong pro-democracy protests, etc. 

By focusing on practices that work collaboratively with and within diverse communities and groups, the collection will engage with and extend fields such as applied theatre, sound art, qualitative inquiry, and sound studies to place the emphasis on sound and community engaged participatory arts practice. As such, it will provide the first extensive analysis of what sound and audio brings to participatory interdisciplinary arts-led research and practice, representing a vital resource for community arts and performance practice and research in the digital age. 

Chapters will be maximum 8000 words (including references), shorter contributions in the form of provocations, reflections on practice, scripts, interviews etc. will be welcome.  

In the first instance, please submit a 300-word proposal and 150-word author biographies to the editors by the closing date: Monday 7th December 2020 

Please also feel free to email us to discuss the volume or your proposal prior to submitting. 

Editor contacts: 

Sarah Woodland:  

Wolfgang Vachon: