Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Ana M. Ochoa Gautier Joins the Stone Center as a Greenleaf Distinguished Visitor for Fall 2016

September 14th, 2016

Written by Ana M. Ochoa Gautier

In Latin America and the Caribbean, different moments and processes of aural perception and sonic recontextualization have been accompanied by an intense debate about the meaning of sonic localism and temporality and its place in history. In the book Aurality: Listening and Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century Colombia (2014) I explored how different practices of listening to the voice led to the inscription in writing of local aural expressive genres as well as to an enlightened cultivation of hearing that were crucial to the development of nineteenth-century concepts about ‘€œlocal culture‘€ and ‘€œlocal nature‘€ that often persist to our days. In the research project I am proposing here, I build on the insights of my previous book but turn to radically different material to study different modes of relation between ecological crises, the acoustic, and different forms and practices of documentation (chronicle, ethnography, sound recordings, film). I seek to understand Latin American and Caribbean aurality in relation to different modes of political mobilization, recording technologies and politics of life in distinct historical moments. Through an ethnographic and historic inquiry, I question the idea that the ‘€œturn to the aural‘€ celebrated by sound studies is a new phenomenon. Rather I explore how different modes of acousticity are linked to different modes of dwelling (Ingold 2011) that link notions of personhood, expressive culture and territory. This project is comparative in nature and is based on historical and ethnographic work I have been doing recently on modes of documentation of the politics of life in Latin America and the Caribbean. Some of the topics to be explored are: Lévi-Strauss, myth, music and Americanist ontologies of the acoustic; Acoustic dimensions of Gaspar de Carvajal‘€™s chronicle of the Conquest of the Amazon; Koch‘€“Grünberg and the acoustic imagination and representation of Roraiama; Vieques, conservation, protest and acoustic-ecological defense; and sonic dimensions of contemporary indigenous film-making in northern Colombia.

Besides working on this research project, I will be coordinating, along with Professor Matt Sakakeeny from The Department of Music, a Sound Studies Reading Group. The field of sound studies has become formalized as a recognized disciplinary field, even as it continues to be described as ever-emergent. In this reading group we seek to explore the changing relations between music studies, sound studies, and attendant fields. The idea is to explore sound in such a way that it generates feedback to our own research. I will jump-start the first two sessions with a chapter from my book Aurality: Listening and Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century Colombia paired with a related reading, and provide more general bibliography/discography/filmography if needed. But the idea is to decide, as a group, what we choose to read or listen to or how to proceed. We hope to meet 5 or 6 times over the course of the semester, and if you know of any graduate students researching music and sound feel free to suggest them.

Ana M. Ochoa can be contacted at

Caribbean + People
Guadalupe García
Assistant Professor - History
Caribbean + News