Parahuman Ecologies of Hearing (Mainz, 19.–20.09.2019)

Das 4. Mainzer Symposium der Sozial- & Kulturwissenschaften Jenseits des Menschen? diskutiert mit Wissenschaftler*innen verschiedener Fachrichtungen unterschiedliche Zugängen zu post-humanen Perspektiven auf Natur/Kultur. Die interdisziplinäre Diskussion lotet das Feld sozial- und kulturwissenschaftlicher Forschungen zu posthumanen Perspektiven aus. Robert Stock (TP 2) wird sich in seinem Vortrag mit parahumanen Ökologien des Hörens befassen.

Die diesjährige Georg Forster Lecture wird von Tim Ingold (University of Aberdeen) gehalten und trägt den Titel: „Posthuman Prehistory“.


This presentation addresses the possibilities to re-think the relations of (non-)human entities and auditory ecologies. By drawing on the notions of meshwork (Ingold) and affordances (Gibson), I question the way how hearing entities and related auditory ecologies might be described as situated and reciprocally produced. Regarding the recent entanglements of bodies, sensory practices and digital technologies I propose to question a framing of techno-sensory regimes that situates them ‘beyond’ the human. Rather, I am interested in describing parahuman constellations (Harrasser) to emphasize an unsteady juxtaposition of bodies, technologies and significant others.

Parahuman ecologies of hearing are posing urgent challenges in many ways. Relations of car noise, motorways and people produce noise hearing residents, noise barriers or new interior car designs (Bijsterveld). Noise cancelling algorithms, smart headphones, digital hearing aids (Ochsner) and personalized hearing protection contribute to a diversification of mobile, connected and situated auditory ecologies. Contemporary scenarios of water, marine engine noise and living entities require us to think through globalized transport routes and consider them as auditory ecologies with an enormous impact on the oceans (Sonic Sea, 2016) in the context of the Anthropocene (Haraway).

It is hence necessary to underscore the precarious character of parahuman ecologies of hearing. Relations of bodies, the senses and technologies constitute practices where noise is generated or avoided and where (non-)hearing entities as well as auditory ecologies are fabricated. Yet the complex effects of these multilayered and dangerous entanglements remain to be explored in full detail. As “arts of living on a damaged planet” (Tsing), they serve as a reminder of the fragility of encounters where sound, noise and silence are at stake.

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