Project (2019-)

Noisy Politics: Acoustics, Sound, and Music in an Age of Populism

The wave of populism sweeping liberal democracies is often associated with the emergence of social media. And, indeed, the “twitterization” of politics has not only spawned new forms of political rhetoric, it has also raised the amount of disinformation and hate speech circulating in the public sphere to unprecedented levels. Much of the debate about these media and expressive practices and the efforts in some countries to regulate them tends to focus on their content. What is often overlooked is the harmful impact of the forms and materiality through which such practices are articulated.  The acoustics, aesthetic structures, and speech patterns shaping populist discourse play a significant role in altering the boundaries of the sayable and what counts as acceptable participation in the public sphere. The project is a broadly comparative one, mapping the different forms of “noisy politics” and the attempts to regulate them in the United States, Germany, and South Africa.