Anthropology of Music Lecture Series 2019
Prof. Steven Feld, University of New Mexico
Lecture 3 came back to the topic of the first lecture, in that it related the story of climatic and environmental change in the Bosavi rainforest to global concerns about the Anthropocene. It took a historical as well as comparative stance, however, in order to re-evaluate the theoretical contribution of “acoustemology” in relation to what is arguably the most important issue to the future of organic survival, environmental climate action. It might once have been considered a quaint oddity that Bosavi people sing to, about, and with birds, insects, and waterways. But now more than ever these eco-aesthetic practices explain music making as cartography, environmental data-gathering, and acute ecological observation. As a specific example, the lecture presented the history of cicadas, stimulated by light and heat, and songs sung to, with and about them in Bosavi. This history was juxtaposed with others, ancient (Greece) and modern (post-nuclear Japan), to link what was once a remote project in the anthropology of sound to a comparative discussion of sonic ecology in general.