Please join us for our first colloquium event of the year on Thursday, October 12 at 5:00pm in Silver 320 when Dr. Viktoria Tkaczyk (Humboldt University of Berlin) will be giving a talk entitled "Sonic Extractivism, Comparative Musicology, and the Chemistry of Media."
The early history of comparative musicology is tied as much to the advent of the phonograph as a medium for capturing music from around the world as it is to the instruments that allowed musicologists, most of them based in regions of the Global North, to meticulously measure the pitch, timbre, and rhythm of recorded music. In this talk, I will draw parallels between this practice of “sonic imperialism” and “sonic extractivism” in late nineteenth and early twentieth century comparative musicology, and the methods and technologies of material analysis in industrial chemistry and resource extraction at the time. In addition, I will show how comparative musicology also concretely benefited from the global extractivism and material trade in the decades around 1900, as waxes, metals, and woods from different regions of the world were used to enable the mass production of phonograph cylinders and high-precision analytical instruments that were then deployed in sound archives and musicological laboratories.
Viktoria Tkaczyk is a professor in the Department of Musicology and Media Studies at Humboldt University in Berlin and is currently the Whitney J. Oates Visiting Fellow in the Humanities Council and the Department of German at Princeton University. She has published widely on the history of early modern and modern aviation, architecture, acoustics, neuroscience, experimental aesthetics, and sound media. Her current work includes a new project exploring how humanistic and scientific technologies relate to geopolitics and resource regimes, and a collaborative project entitled "Applied Humanities: Genealogies and Politics.“ Among her most recent publications are Thinking with Sound: A New Program in the Sciences and Humanities around 1900 (University of Chicago Press, 2023) and “Supplied Knowledge: Reconsidering the Resources of Epistemic Tools” (Focus Section, Isis: A Journal of the History of Science Society, 114/2, 2023), ed. with C. von Oertzen.