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Jennifer Stoever: The Sonic Color Line and the Listening Ear

EVENT: Jennifer Stoever 'The Sonic Color Line and the Listening Ear'

Liquid Architecture x un Projects

Sat, 25. Aug 2018
7 - 9pm
Florence Peel Centre
190 Young St, Fitzroy

For a very long time now, Amer­ica has — auda­ciously and impos­si­bly — labored under the illu­sion that it is a ​“col­or­blind” nation: that skin color simply ​“doesn’t matter” when it comes to employ­ment, or school­ing, or oppor­tu­nity of any sort. That it is pos­si­ble to ​“not see color” when it comes to inti­mate rela­tion­ships, to hiring or firing, to rent­ing a home, to polic­ing a neigh­bor­hood. And, more cyn­i­cally, that, in a market-driven nation, it our nation is only pos­si­ble — and prof­itable — when every­one sees only ​“green,” the color of dol­lars earned toward that Amer­i­can Dream, open to all, equally, pro­vided of course you can afford it.

But money and class have proven time and again not to be the great col­or­blind equal­izer for people of color, for whom suc­cess often means living and work­ing in pre­dom­i­nately white spaces, con­tend­ing with invis­i­ble racial pro­to­cols that deem their voices, speech, music and other cul­tural expres­sions of black­ness to be hyper­audi­ble noise: too loud, too inap­pro­pri­ate, too unpro­fes­sional, too dif­fer­ent, too much, too ratchet, too urban, too [insert white euphemism for ​“black” here]. Indeed, that’s exactly how these sonic signs of not-belong­ing oper­ate for the white people — as codes that allow them to politely sur­veille and legally police for black­ness, to con­tinue to objec­tify and mark black­ness as such and put it to heel, quiet it or seg­re­gate the people who make it out of their sound­scapes at will. And all this with­out using overt racial des­ig­na­tions, doing the work of racism while evad­ing the title.

In ​“Soni­fy­ing Race, Sur­veilling Space: The Sonic Color Line and the Lis­ten­ing Ear” scholar Jen­nifer Sto­ever will unset­tle the exclu­sive rela­tion­ship between race and look­ing that col­or­blind racism depends upon and show how lis­ten­ing works to police racial bound­aries in every­day life. explain the find­ings of her research on race, sound, and lis­ten­ing in the United States, first by intro­duc­ing the con­cept of the sonic color line — my term for the racial bound­aries anyone who grows up or spends much time in this coun­try is social­ized to hear and amplify — and then by using this con­cept to listen to racism in the US, show­ing why sound mat­ters in our con­tem­po­rary strug­gles against racism, sys­tem­at­i­cally in our class­room and court­rooms, and in our every­day inter­ac­tions in public places. Inter­weav­ing theory, archival research, analy­sis of court cases and viral videos, and rep­re­sen­ta­tions in pop­u­lar cul­ture, Sto­ever argues that that the only way that col­or­blind­ness could ever have taken root as a func­tion­ing ide­ol­ogy in a nation so riven with unre­paired and deeply his­tor­i­cal racial hier­ar­chies is because we hear America’s color lines as well as we see them, maybe even more so in a nation so stub­bornly insis­tent it is pos­si­ble — or even desir­able — for every­one to ​“over­look” race.

Fol­low­ing Jennifer’s lec­ture she will be in dis­cus­sion with Pro­fes­sor SUND­HYA PAHUJA, Direc­tor of Mel­bourne Law School’s Insti­tute for Inter­na­tional Law and the Human­i­ties (IILAH) and author of Decolonis­ing Inter­na­tional Law: Devel­op­ment, Eco­nomic Growth and the Pol­i­tics of Uni­ver­sal­ity (Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity Press, 2011).

JEN­NIFER STO­EVER is an Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor at SUNY Bing­ham­ton, where she teaches courses on African Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture, sound stud­ies, and race and gender rep­re­sen­ta­tion in pop­u­lar music. She also is the project coor­di­na­tor for the Bing­ham­ton His­tor­i­cal Sound­walk Project, a multi-year archival, civi­cally-​engaged art project designed to chal­lenge how Bing­ham­ton stu­dents and year-round res­i­dents hear their town, them­selves, and each other. She is Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief for Sound­ing Out!: The Sound Stud­ies Blog and her book The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cul­tural Pol­i­tics of Lis­ten­ing was pub­lished by New York Uni­ver­sity Press in 2016.

Presented in partnership with Liquid Architecture.

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2019 Editor Call Out: un Magazine vol. 13

2019 Editor Call Out: un Magazine vol. 13

un Projects is currently seeking Expressions of Interest for an Editor/s for un Magazine vol. 13, publishing two issues, 13.1 and 13.2 in April and October 2019 respectively.

This is a unique and exciting opportunity to take a leading role in the development and production of one of Australia’s most respected independent contemporary arts publications.

Total remuneration is a $3,500 fee per issue, a total of $7,000. Download a detailed Position Description here

Submissions close 5pm, Tuesday 4th September 2018.

We strongly encourage submissions from diverse writers, including Indigenous Australians, queer and/or trans writers, people of colour and writers of all genders and abilities. un Magazine is published in Narrm Melbourne but Editors can be based elsewhere in Australia.

Questions? Please get in touch with un Projects’ General Manager Sarah Gory on sarahgory@unprojects.org.au or 0401 210 641. We welcome emerging and experienced editors/writers as well as alternative approaches and are happy to discuss your application prior to submission.

Please note: un Projects recognises the importance of Indigenous Australian and First Nations people in dialogue around contemporary art. Including culturally-informed Indigenous content and contributions will continue to be a priority in 2019.

Image: un Magazine 12.1, Footscray Community Arts Centre, May 2018. Photo: Daniel Gardeazabal.

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un Writer in Residence

Hannah Donnelly, Long Water, 2016, Yirramboi Festival, Open Studio Residency presented by Arts House.

un Writer in Residence: Hannah Donnelly

We are so delighted to announce writer and artist Hannah Donnelly will join us as the inaugural un Writer in Residence.

The un Writer in Residence program is a new initiative that offers an emerging-to-mid career Australian arts writer a paid writing residency, with the scope and the space to develop new work and support the resident writers' creative and critical practice.

During her residency, Hannah Donnelly will focus on developing her ongoing writing experiments with speculative fiction and Indigenous Futures. This will encapsulate both critical theory and creative writing in the form of research and future tense interviews with various artists and curators. Hannah’s interviews are conducted from a sovereign future with the aim of collecting stories for imagined archives. 


Hannah Donnelly is a writer renowned for her ‘cli-fi’, she works with Indigenous Futurisms and responses to climate trauma. Hannah is the creator of Sovereign Trax promoting First Nations music through energising decolonisation conversations and community in music. Her recent group exhibitions include The Future Leaks Out, Liveworks, Sydney 2017; Future Eaters, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne 2017; Feedback Loop, Blak Dot Gallery, Melbourne 2017; and State of the Nation, Counihan Gallery, Melbourne, 2016.

Over the next six months, we will be publishing Hannah's work online and announcing any special residency events - sign up to our newsletter so you don't miss a beat!

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un Magazine 12.1 OUT NOW

The latest edition of un Magazine is out now.

Issue 12.1: The Unbearable Hotness of Decolonisation is co-edited by Maddee Clark & Neika Lehman.

un Magazine 12.1 is now up on the website. The print edition of un Magazine is distributed and available for free at galleries and outlets across Australia and internationally.

"Decolonise your knowledge, decolonise your desire, decolonise your body, decolonise your fashion, decolonise your spice rack, decolonise your gut, decolonise your reading list, decolonise your seating arrangement, decolonise your watch, decolonise your pedagogy, decolonise your arts practice, decolonise your IG account, decolonise your meme. It starts with colonised peoples talking about their empowerment and, necessarily, it’s a wide open road with Indigenous and non-Indigenous participation. But with these white artworld people in particular … I am wondering, is it decolonising or re-colonising? ..."
--- from Editorial, un Magazine 12.1

Featuring writing & art by: Rene Kulitja + Linda Rive with John Dallwitz + Susan Lowish, Kate Rendell, Tristen Harwood + Lauren Burrow, Genevieve Grieves, Suzanne Kite, Ainslee Meredith, Tawhanga Nopera, Ellen O'Brien, Rebecca McCauley, Natasha Matila-Smith, Kenzee Patterson, Susie Anderson, Julie Gough, Georgina Watson, Beth Sometimes + Lorrayne Gorey, Fran Edmonds + Lily Graham + Jessica Bennett, Dean Cross, Katie West, Megan Cope, Steven Rhall & Timmah Ball.


Cover image:
Julie Gough
The Lost World (part 2) (video still) 2013
HDMI video, H264, 16:9, 1:15:32 hr:min:sec, colour,
sound. Edited by Jemma Rea

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