Sound politics reveal that which coloniality tries to normalize: acts of silencing accomplished through history books, genocide, police violence, and a stream of (and collusion with) news sources and shady political negotiations. Those masses of blindfolded women, in Chile and around the world, remind themselves and everyone else that whenever coloniality tries to obstruct ways of seeing, that sounding, moving, and listening will stand as the most effective weapon for challenging, redirecting, and disrupting the insidious mechanisms of coloniality.
Porque lo que queremos, o lo que pensamos, es un mundo nuevo, o un sistema nuevo. No copia del que ya hay o darle un agregado a lo que ya hay. Esto es el problema que decimos, porque no hay libro, manual que nos diga cómo. Ese libro o manual, todavía no está escrito, está todavía en los cerebros con imaginación, en los ojos listos con mirada de algo nuevo que se quiere ver, en los oídos muy atentos para captar lo nuevo que se quiere.
Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (2016)
Sound politics preclude, respond, prefigure, and oftentimes expose the possibilities of new worlds and new imaginations. Here we see a clear preoccupation with the sonic as a site of radical political articulation, but we also see (and listen) to configurations of the sonic that strive to maintain the underlying structures of coloniality in place. Musics are criminalized, languages stolen, mass media sound bites repeated to exhaustion. Sound is (made) territory, and the ebbs and flows of sub-bass funk 150bpm and perreo collide directly with authoritarian shouts of order, religious ritual, and violence, revealing the groans, moans, screams, and sounds that were once written of, as sound scholar Ana Ochoa Gautier (2014) reminds us, as belonging to a state of “nature” rather than “reason.”
All the articles presented in this issue deal, in one way or another, with overcoming the conviction of this eternal solitude Gabo spoke and wrote so much about. In articulating the multitudes of the sonic, they also shed light on the contradictions that make Latin America the site of production of different modernities and concomitantly, different subjectivities. Silent protests unfurl themselves to reveal insurgent gestures, while loudness is contemporaneously criminalized and weaponized through an adherence to modern/Eurocentric ideals of what silence should mean. Tapping into the necessity of maintaining memory through practices of archiving unfolds itself to reveal new grammars of and for noise. On a similar note, practices of sonification with and within national (and symbolic) identities cut across urban planning to reveal the potentialities of listening to intervene within the organization of political and cultural space. Class separation in city architecture is blurred, obscured, and revealed by the occupation of the sonic space through informal economic models, troubling the idea of public and private spaces as being fundamentally opposed to one another. The erasure of spiritual practices, their movements and music, reveals the unequal distribution of safety, while massive sport events exercise sound politics in conflating aggressiveness and community.
None of these contributions, however, seeks to romanticize the violence of colonialism into a beautiful narrative of a struggle for survival; rather, they make clear that ambiguity, conflict, and contradiction are not markers to be erased or ignored. They do not present sites of "ontological resistance," for that, as decolonial theorist FrantzFanon (1952: 90) has long reminded us, remains in the realm of impossibility. Instead, they are mechanisms through which we can better understand how Latin America has consistently attempted (and must continue) to untangle itself from any imposed notion of a colonial modernity in order to become something else – something multiple and pluriversal.
We present the articles of this issue framed within this series of reminders and acts of revealing offered in this introduction. It is but a small attempt to learn a bit more how to differentiate the inherited from the imposed (Anzaldúa 1987: 104). And as we march on, seemingly in unison, the multitudes of Latin America walk beside us, as loud as ever. Eager to tell other, neglected, or unimagined stories.
Eager to – in the words of Krenak – postpone another end of the world.
Anzaldúa, Gloria (2015). Light in the Dark/Luz En Lo Oscuro: Rewriting Identity, Spirituality, Reality. Durham: Duke University Press.
Anzaldúa, Gloria (2007). Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books.
Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (2016). “El arte que no se ve, ni se escucha.” Enlace Zapatista.
Fanon, Frantz (2008). Black Skin, White Masks (trans. Richard Philcox). New York: Grove Press.
Ochoa Gautier, Ana Maria (2014). Aurality. Listening and Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century Colombia. Durham: Duke University Press.
Krenak, Ailton (2019). Ideias para adiar o fim do mundo. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras.
Las Tesis, 2019. Performance colectivo Las Tesis “Un violador en tu camino.”
Márquez, Gabriel Garcia (1982). “La soledad de America Latina” (Nobel Lecture).
Walsh, Catherine (2003). “Las geopolíticas del conocimiento y colonialidad del poder. Entrevista a Walter Mignolo.” In Catherine Walsh, Freya Schiwy and Santiago Castro-Gómez (eds.), Indisciplinar las ciencias sociales. Geopolíticas del conocimiento y colonialidad del poder perspectivas desde lo andino (pp. 17-44). Quito: Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar. Revista Latinoamericana.