Check-in
Paper Session
Nov 11, 2021 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM(America/Chicago)
20211111T1100 20211111T1150 America/Chicago COVID-19 and the Sound of Lockdown AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org
Contractions, Cries, and COVID: The Traumatic Soundscapes of Lockdown UK Hospital Maternity Wards
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 17:50:00 UTC

Modern delivery and maternity wards present numerous human and technological sounds, but the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown of hospitals has variegated these soundscapes. While beeps and blips of medical equipment – and certainly, the cries of babies – remain, patients and staff have largely been silenced. The barrier of face masks stifles personal exchange, and the joyful conversations with visitors have been absent as mothers and babies spent their first days together alone. 


This paper explores how new mothers during the time of COVID have harnessed technology to mitigate and re-exert control over soundscapes of lockdown delivery and 

maternity. Music streaming, messaging, and video calls have helped to ameliorate the traumas of delivery and the experience of forced separation from family and friends, as well as to silence pervasive medical technologies and sounds of distress of other patients in situations of shared wards. I draw upon my own experience of giving birth in a London hospital in June 2020, and after developing preeclampsia, subsequent week of feeling imprisoned within a maternity ward's soundscape. In addition to drawing upon my observations of fellow patients, I consider accounts of lockdown maternity and birth shared on social media (from Instagram to #butnotmaternity on Twitter), and the healing communities formed online. I frame such testimonies using pain theory by Elaine Scarry and Joanna Bourke, and trauma theory by Judith Herman. Patients' use of sound technologies will then be further discussed in relation to Steven Goodman's theory of sonic assault, and Marie Thompson's concept of "reproductive sound technologies." The use of sound technologies in these shared wards, I contend, corresponds to Gilles Deleuze's observation of a shift from a form-imposing to a self-regulating mode of power, which he terms as shift from "molding" to "modulation." 


In addition to establishing intersections of trauma and soundscapes of lockdown delivery and maternity wards, this paper proposes new ways for understanding how women's birth experiences have been silenced – not only through a silencing imposed by COVID restrictions, but also through the ways that women, even in shared spaces, can silence each other.  

Presenters
MM
Michelle Meinhart
Trinity Laban Conservatoire
Old-time Music, Technology, and Liveness: Digital Community Building as Response to COVID-19
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 17:50:00 UTC

 

Even though old-time music is practiced mainly as a face-to-face form of social music-making, the genre has adapted to digital pedagogy, virtual performance, and social media. Indeed, various local fiddle associations and independently organized jam sessions rely on social media for organizing and disseminating information. At the same time, the teaching of the repertoire via fully digital platforms has become increasingly prevalent among the genre's practitioners. However, under stay-at-home orders imposed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, what once was a supplemental mode of communication, performance, and pedagogy, became the only option. As such, a musical tradition focused on situated notions of community and place was forced to rapidly adapt to the contemporary realities of social distancing and quarantining.  

            

Based on digital ethnography, this paper explores the varied responses of the old-time community to the existential, economic, and social threat of COVID-19. Drawing on the work of media scholars Henry Jenkins and James Gee, I frame old-time practitioners, organizers, and fans as an example of participatory culture and focus on the emergence of new or renegotiated "affinity spaces" (Gee 2004) such as virtual festivals, workshops, and live-streamed concerts. I contend that these digital affinity spaces redefined what it means to be an active cultural participant and provide insight into the old-time community's ongoing investment in liveness.  Turning speculatively towards a post-quarantine environment, I address the future viability of these digital affinity spaces and issues such as technological access and old-time music's cultural sustainability. 

Presenters
LB
Landon Bain
UC San Diego
Racializing the Sounds and Silence of COVID-19 Quarantine in China: Media Representation, Debility, and Neoliberal Biopolitics
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 17:50:00 UTC

When Western news media first reported from COVID-19-beset Wuhan, China in late January, 2020, their audience undoubtedly entertained different expectations for the city's mediated sights and sounds. Instead of finding a bustling metropolis filled with the sounds of traffic, they encountered what New York's _Business Insider_ termed a "ghost city" (February 5). Human bodies, the direct recipients of the debilitating effects of the coronavirus, were hardly in evidence in North American and European coverage, which was marked rather by their absence (Osborne 2020; Su 2020). The news consumer experienced eerie, silent images of empty streets, in alignment with our visual and sonic stereotyping of quarantine under strict Chinese control (Qin & Wang 2020). Lockdown never sounded so quiet as constructed by the ears of international media, which seemed intent on excluding the sounds of life and music from inside containment. In essence, the Western press was (re-)colonizing, debilitating, and "disappearing" Asian bodies, consistent with James Kyung-Jin Lee's concept of Asian "racial invisibility" (2004), thereby depriving them of life-affirming physicality and sonority.

This paper will analyze sight and sound in North American and European audiovisual news coverage from Wuhan during the week following their lockdown on January 23 (ABC, BBC, CNN), using Robert Entman's theory of media frames as informed by Jasbir Puar's theorizing of debility (2017). Media framing enables us to "expose the hidden assumptions embedded within a news story" (Otoo 2021). The Global North's visual/sonic erasure and debilitation of Chinese bodies under quarantine occurred via the mediated agency of what Naomi Klein has termed "disaster capitalism" (2007), which Lisa Parks and Janet Walker have described as "necessarily racialized capitalism" (Parks & Walker 2020, 3). As Puar has observed, the neoliberal biopolitics of such conditions "sustain… the debilitated body as degraded object" (Puar, 2017, 92). Debilitated bodies in quarantine, like the residents of Wuhan, seem incomprehensible and unproductive burdens to the neoliberal capitalist imaginary, and thus are silenced. The Wuhanese lost their claim to material presence in Western media through sound and music, as incarcerated and racialized "objects of un-care-social pariahs" (Puar, 2017, 77).


Presenters
JD
James Deaville
Carleton University
Carleton University
UC San Diego
Trinity Laban Conservatoire
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
No attendee has checked-in to this session!
Upcoming Sessions (Local time)