This article places noise and sound at the center of an inquiry into the environmental impact of military occupations. Drawing from the example of the US occupation of Culebra, Puerto Rico (1902–75), I argue that conflicts over the impact of noise index epistemological uncertainties about the status of sound as a scientific object of study. Reading the records of the Electro-Acoustic and Psycho-Acoustic Laboratories at Harvard University in the 1940s against a Senate hearing conducted in the 1970s underscores the ways noise as a source of harm was both obvious to civilians in militarized zones and illegible as such to military and government officials. In part this was due to the science of sound itself, which had failed to account for the potential harm of military sound to humans and more than humans alike.

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