South Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Transforming Everyday Sounds: The Loudspeaker in India, C. 1925 - 45

Friday, July 6
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Cypress, New Building

This paper examines the appearance of the loudspeaker in India, c. 1925 - 45. It weaves together conversations within sound studies on amplification (Devine 2013, Theberge et al 2015), sound media histories in Africa and Asia (Karel 2003, Khan 2011, Larkin 2014, Ravikant 2016 amongst others) with South Asian history looking at small and big technologies such as sewing machines (Arnold 2013)  and railways (Prasad 2015). This paper follows the loudspeaker as it combines with other objects (radios, telephones, lorries, railways etcetera) to participate in a network of sensory infrastructures (Sundaram 2015). In so doing, political moments such as the civil disobedience movement and the Congress party are recast as sonic, affective and mediatised forces. This is no surprise given similar theses about the Nazi party in Germany of the 1920s and 30s (Lacey 2013).
However, it is not the political entity’s recasting that this paper wishes to focus upon. Rather, in mapping the network of infrastructures that the loudspeaker participated in, it hopes to be able to ask, and provisionally and tentatively answer, some of the following questions: (1) What were the mode/s and regimes of bodily habitation which were prevalent and altered by the introduction of amplification? (2) How did these infrastructures of sound (amplification, transmission etcetera) and organised sound intervene in, produce and organise public cultures, especially around the bazaar? (3) How did these infrastructures fold themselves into larger circuits, maps, and geographies of business and industry (electronics, sound media) across the erstwhile British empire?

Vebhuti Duggal

Ambedkar University Delhi, India

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1 - Transforming Everyday Sounds: The Loudspeaker in India, C. 1925 - 45



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