In our current issue, Dr. Weida Wang, an Honorary Research Fellow affiliated with the Department of Music at the University of Liverpool, considers the work of dissident Chinese artists living in London in his work “Ruptured Rhetoric: Constructing London Sinophone Communities through Sound.”

Wang’s research focuses on the effects of the 2020 Hong Kong National Security Law that, when combined with the Chinese government’s zero-tolerance policy regarding COVID-19, resulted in the involuntary expatriation and emigration of tens of thousands of Hong Kong citizens to London. For Wang, it’s the Chinese sound artists amid this population in London who are collectively working to create new cultural epistemologies through their art and activism. Wang calls on the Taiwanese American scholar Shu-Mei Shih’s term, Sinophone—defined as a Chinese cultural circle lying outside mainland China formed by a Chinese-speaking population—to help scaffold the themes of resistance and identity that are present in the artworks of Chinese artist Chris Yuan, and the works of Hong Kong artists Bo Choy, Yarli Allison, and On Yee Lo. The author states:

The construction of this local power mechanism includes an epistemological conceptualization of the complex meanings of colonialism, intensive self-reflection and debate over queer identities (contemplating perspectives on gender in the Chinese community in response to, and influenced by, local gender politics in the UK), the localization of the social aspects of Chinese food culture, and additional phenomena.…This has created a hybridized London Sinophone discourse, which stands at the edge of the Chinese cultural circle, examining and reflecting on mainstream Chinese culture to some extent, while partially resisting it in order to maintain the London Sinophone’s independence

Wang’s current research is a welcome dispatch, one that celebrates the nuanced contributions of artists who are creating new articulations of identity through sound in London.

The community is open and inclusive; therefore, most of this community’s soundworks try to construct a non-Sino-centric postcolonialism that abandons the dualistic conflict between West and East. This is [according to Gao, Tse, and Woods] “a Sinophone critique” that “draws on the variegated formations of Sinophone communities around the world.” I argue that, through the work of dissident ethnic Chinese artists residing in London, thriving Sinophone communities are forming that incorporate the London scene’s local culture while reestablishing the meaning of Chineseness in terms of a new, critical epistemology.

In “Access Amplified: Saving and Sharing a 1968 Detroit Audio Collection,” coauthors, Matt St. John, Lauren E. Wilks, Stephanie Sapienza, and Eric Hoyt present their original and far-reaching research on the 1968 documentary radio series Seeds of Discontent. Their case study traces the series conceived and produced by Hartford Smith Jr., a Black social worker and professor in Detroit, originally distributed by the National Educational Radio Network. Smith produced the radio series as a forum for examining the roots of social problems and from his own concern over the American media’s stereotyping of those who were directly connected with ongoing civil unrest in Detroit. The authors note:

For Seeds of Discontent, Smith was motivated by examining situations and experiences for which reality did not fit the media’s portrayal, and he went directly to the source in his decision to speak with people who actually experienced problems and were often stereotyped in mass media, rather than relying on commentators and journalists.

“Access Amplified” is even more valuable as a contribution to the history of Black media creation as it relays the events of how Smith’s family came to access a beta version of the website Unlocking the Airwaves, on which the Seeds of Discontent series is housed. This led to a series of interviews with Smith and his donation of all the original recordings to the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research in 2021. For the authors, accessing archives is about working to create a sustained set of cultural relations that have lasting impacts on how social justice is historicized:

Even as technological tools have made it easier to digitize materials and publish them online, reaching audiences beyond those traditionally served by archives remains a challenge, but creating multiple ways of accessing and contextualizing collections is a key step. As inequality, racism, police brutality, and other pressing issues from the 1960s raised in Seeds of Discontent continue to face Detroit and other cities across the United States, archives should center the dedication to access modeled by Hartford Smith Jr. and others who seek to understand and rectify injustices through their media production and distribution.

We continue our special series “Queer Politics & Positionalities in Sonic Art” with an in-depth interview by special series editor Charles Eppley in conversation with sound artists and audio producers JT Green and Ariana Martinez. In this series, we present long-form interviews as a way of documenting the richly nuanced processes that artists engage in and how their work in sound reveals fascinating insights into their artmaking and their lives as professional media artists working from queer, trans, and disabled perspectives.

Alex Voisine’s essay on the singer Chavela Vargas is an intricate and deeply personal inquiry into and reflection on how the music and marimacho voice of Vargas signifies a specific, hybrid form of grief. In “Cogiendo en luto: Chavela Vargas and the Erotic Politics of Grief,” Voisine outlines aspects of their mosaic approach to the interpretation of Chavela’s music:

As a queer spectator and “audience” member to Vargas’s performances of grief and the erotic, I recognize, as Laura Gutíerrez argues, that “queer performative interventions…propel the spectator into a parallel process of unmasking hegemonic social and cultural systems.” As I consider what Vargas tells us about grief and the erotic, I implicate myself and my own grief. In so doing, I have tried to interrogate the “hegemonic social and cultural systems” that mediate, sanitize, and pathologize my grieving process, participating queerly, erotically, and enthusiastically in Chavela’s postmortem politics. The autoethnographic asides I include in the essay reinforce Gutiérrez’s queer performative methodology, triggering an “unsettling [of] comforts within the otherwise rigid and conventional ways of producing scholarship.”

Their essay also includes a skillful analysis of film cameos that feature Chavela, from Julie Taymor’s Frida to Pedro Almodóvar’s Dolor y gloria. Voisine creates a fascinating fusion that’s informed by a wealth of researchers and theorists, including Sofía Ruiz-Alfaro, Douglas Crimp, and Achille Mbembe.

“The Trans Ear/(h)earing” is an experimental essay by Alejandrina M. Medina that diagrams “how formulations of the ear, and sensations in the flesh prior to entering regimes of cognition, are central to the practice of thinking trans through sound.” Medina resists flattened ontologies of sound as outlined by object-oriented ontology and new materialism, instead proposing to

model thinking trans not by defining the concept, but by feeling its contours through a sensual grammar unlocked by speculative writing. Experimental and intensely theoretical writing—I try to steer away from the pejorative adjective dense—can be painful to read. But as trans/queer scholars, we might ask ourselves what pleasure can be derived when we encounter challenging texts, and ask, “Yes, please, more?” I invite the reader to breathe into the confusion when the essay gets a little windy, and to find a way to take pleasure in endurance.

The gleeful daring of Medina’s call is one that is inclusive of the power of poetics, collage, and their desire to joyously un-affix one’s research from the traditional margins of scholarship.

“Sound Cage” by Joshua Mitchell is an examination of the carceral system’s use of prison radio and PA systems and how sound technologies were implemented in prisons as a form of control as early as 1907. Mitchell’s research into sound and prisons includes his reflections on prison publications such as Nebraska State Reformatory’s Monocle, Indiana Reformatory’s Reflector, and Wisconsin State Prison’s The Candle. As Mitchell describes, even acts of listening were formally defined and governed by state agencies:

Historically, this cruel manipulation of imprisoned people’s lives through sound has included an institutional imperative to train a prison’s captives in the practice of well-mannered listening. As one example, the September 1945 issue of The Candle, a prisoner-edited periodical published at the Wisconsin State Prison, included a full-page announcement featuring four rules of radio etiquette.

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Editor’s note: The special series “Militarized Ecologies: Auralities, Incorporations, Terrain” will appear in the next issue, not this one. We apologize for any confusion.

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We would like to thank the authors and reviewers and are proud to share their valued research here in the third issue of our fourth volume. Additionally, we want to thank the following people for their support, hard work, and guidance in the development of this journal: David Famiano, Cheryl Owen, Laura Kenney, and Janet Vail. Our continued thanks go out to the members of our talented editorial board for their hard work, insights, and guidance.

Resonance: The Journal of Sound and Culture is an interdisciplinary, international peer-reviewed journal that features research and writing of scholars and artists working in fields typically considered to be the domain of sound art and sound studies. These fields may include traditional and new forms of radio, music, performance, installation, sound technologies, immersive realities, and studies-based disciplines such as musicology, philosophy, and cultural studies. The scope extends to other disciplines such as ethnography, cultural geography, ecologies, media archaeology, digital humanities, audiology, communications, and architecture. This journal’s purview investigates the research, theory, and praxis of sound from diverse cultural perspectives in the arts and sciences and encourages consideration of ethnicity, race, and gender within theoretical and/or artistic frameworks as they relate to sound. Resonance also welcomes research and approaches that explore cultural boundaries and expand upon the concept of sound as a living, cultural force whose territories and impacts are still emerging.