Sounding South Asia: From Silence to Noise

Call for Papers: The Soundtrack

Special Issue: ‘Sounding South Asia: From Silence to Noise’

We invite abstracts of 300–500 words by 15 October 2022at the latest.

Abstracts can be mailed to (soundtrackspecialedition /at/

View the full CFP here>>

Co-edited by Shweta Khilnani, Ritwick Bhattacharjee and Saikat Ghosh

For Don Ihde, as long as humans find themselves living in and breathing through air, sound becomes, for them, an existential singularity. In fact, this air itself, Ihde continues, is ‘not neutral or lifeless’ but finds animation in and with ‘sound and voice’. It is, finally, this vibrant tract of air (for what else is sound?) which relates and marks the human in its existential prospects by not only producing an ambience of the world but also, simultaneously, being subjected to reciprocal manipulation by humans who invariably seek constructive teleologies.

The active manipulation of sonic regimes, in a sense, weaves together auditory and other sensory experiences materialized through the intersection of media and technology. Obviously, one need not restrict the technological to the modern and see it, as Heidegger would have it, within the prospects of its techne. Nevertheless, as soundscapes do become increasingly mediated by respectively advancing forms of technology, the question that needs asking is: how do they influence our ability to hear and respond to sound? The affordances of sound-based technologies allow hitherto ignored sounds and silences to materialize within novel forms of mediatized narratives, turning largely silent cultures of communication into multisensory experiences.

Outside of such mediated curations, sonic patterns also aid in constituting the dynamic of civic and community lives in populous spaces. In such instances, the spatial order is propelled towards intersecting levels of crises by the subjective experience of disruptive sonic patterns. These patterns themselves emerge from cultures and practices nurtured and validated within aspirational and competitive frames of collective life. But they are registered in the civic consciousness as noise, nuisance and, infrequently, even as indivisible remainders of affects that cannot be fully accommodated within the present order. These sounds, however, are not empty punctuations; in fact, they interrupt the abstract flow of clock time with narratives, both real and imagined.

Through this special journal edition, we wish to study these constitutive roles of sonic imaginations and how they ‘rework culture through the development of new narratives, new histories, new technologies and new narratives’ (Sterne). The larger context of this effort is the recent social and cultural transformations in South Asia, reflected in its emerging spaces, its continuously negotiated and redefined spatialities, and the soundscapes that have come to characterise such dynamics. Contemporary South Asia offers experiences and concepts that are ulterior to the conventional discourses of urbanization or gentrification. Political mediations, resettlements of industry and labour, and the continuous development of local infrastructure in provinces as well as metropolises are often translated into kaleidoscopic sonic patterns of life that are far from settled in any historical sense of the term. Neat distinctions between urban and non-urban spaces are not even available within municipal jurisdictions. Hence, the sense of order is both fluid and fragile.

The abstracts can pertain to the following list of possible subjects.

However, they don’t have to be limited to these areas by any means:

  • Urban soundscapes
  • Sonic dimensions of public piety
  • Curated sonic environments/ sonic mediations
  • Sound and the law
  • Viral sounds
  • Invisible/underground sounds
  • The mythopoetics of sound.

Guest editors

Shweta Khilnani is an assistant professor of English at SGTB Khalsa College, University of Delhi. Her Ph.D. dissertation is on the nexus between the literary, the affective and the political with respect to digital narratives. She is interested in the study of popular and visual cultures. Among her publications are a co-edited anthology titled Science Fiction in India: Parallel Worlds and Postcolonial Paradigms, Imagining Worlds, Mapping Possibilities: Select Science Fiction Stories (2020) and Laughing Matters: Stand-up Comedy and Enjoyment in Late Capitalism (2020), besides several academic papers and book chapters.

Ritwick Bhattacharjee is an assistant professor at the Department of English, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College, University of Delhi. His research has been located around fantasy, philosophy, phenomenology, horror fiction, science fiction, Indian English novels and disability studies. He is the author of Humanity’s Strings: Being, Pessimism, and Fantasy and a co-editor for Horror Fictions of the Global South: Cultures, Narratives and Representations (with Saikat Ghosh) and What Makes it Pop? Introduction to Studies in Popular Fiction (with Srinjoyee Dutta). He has two upcoming books: Science Fiction in India: Parallel Worlds and Postcolonial Paradigms (co-edited with Shweta Khilnani) and Reclaiming the Disabled Subject: Representing Disability in Short Fiction (co-written with Someshwar Sati and G. J. V. Prasad). He has been awarded the Professor Meenakshi Mukherjee Memorial award for his essay titled ‘Politics of translation: Disability, language, and the inbetween’ published in the book Disability in Translation: The Indian Experience.

Saikat Ghosh is an assistant professor of English at SGTB Khalsa College, University of Delhi. He has taught courses on Marxist cultural theory, popular fiction, modernism and psychoanalysis. He is the co-editor of Horror Fiction in the Global South: Cultures, Narratives and Representations. He writes extensively on the politics of higher education.

General Editor

Benjamin Wright

University of Windsor, Canada

(bwright /at/