Liberté, Égalité, Sonorité(s): Theorizing the Sonic Landscape of Racialized Urban governance, Youth Politics, and Place-making in Mantes-la-Jolie, France


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships




This dissertation project brings together soundscape studies, Black geographies, and urban sociology to examine the role of the sonic landscape in addressing the ongoing crises and contradictions of French republican universalism in and beyond France’s urban “priority neighborhoods,” or “quartiers prioritaires.” Building on the tradition of landscape studies, the proposed research illustrates how urban citizenship struggles amongst Afro-descendant youth citizens in the Parisian suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie can be “heard”, inviting critical attunement to the sounds of everyday struggle, or what youth in this context refer to vernacularly as “la hess.” As an innovation, the project amplifies phonographic methods of field-recording and collaborative soundwalks of the urban sonic environment to assess how the sonic structuring of space governs Black and other racialized youth mobilities in everyday life, and how those youth resist and contest such governance through their own sound and place-making practices, considered as “radical sonorities”.