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Senior Research Seminar: Dr Christina Woolner (University of Cambridge)

When Feb 28, 2020
from 04:15 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Edmund Leach Room, Department of Social Anthropology Free School Lane, Cambridge
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Dr Christina Woolner (University of Cambridge)

Listening to love: aural attention, vocal iconicity and intimacy in Somaliland

On first listen, both music and talk about love are conspicuously absent from Hargeysa’s contested public soundscapes. Yet behind closed doors, lonely love-sufferers and love-hopefuls tune in to the intimate aspirations and anxieties of others by listening to love songs. In this paper, I explore how and to what effect this listening occurs. Documenting the intimate listening practices of individuals at different stages in their love journeys – at the outset of a relationship, in the midst of heartbreak, and within marriage – I suggest that listeners do not simply listen to love songs but listen to love. I mean this in two senses. Firstly, highly-attentive listeners listen to love – that is, in order to feel love, make sense of love(-pain), and actualize love in their own lives. Yet they also listen to love – that is, to voices conceived as “love incarnate”, voices that model intimacy. This paper is a reflection on the kinds of subjectivities and “feeling-sharing” opportunities that different listening acts open into, and the complex relationship between ears and voices, sound and affect, aurality and intimacy. 

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