Start here.

I’m Paul, a third year doctoral student at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology. With 12 months of funding left, I’m realising that I really ought to start writing something. This blog is a means of ironing out the considerable wrinkles in my thought processes, of sharing ideas, and (should any lost souls ever stumble upon it) of soliciting  casual feedback. It’s also where I’ll be hiding any bits of work that are near enough complete to be readable, but not yet commercially published.

My research is about Sound and Heritage (I’m no archaeologist.)

In particular, starting from the observation that in the past decade or so numerous archives of ‘everyday’ sounds have sprung up online – some in major collecting institutions – I’m interested to ask the following questions:

  1. Why collect sound?
  2. What is sound heritage?
  3. What, moreover, is heritage?
  4. What can heritage be/do, in terms of its having a role in society?
  5. That is, should it strive to educate and effect or enable social change, or is it enough to represent or reflect the world around us?
  6. And then, how feasible is either of those two aims?

My work to date has seen me talking to a number of sound archivists, analysing the construction of archives and the knowledge they purport to contain, and also pursuing two of my own experimental projects that try to do something more than preservative with sound. In the first of these I carried out walking interviews with some residents of my local  neighbourhood in Stamford Hill, North London. When that left me with a hot mess of unresolvable, unsythensisable interpretations of the soundscape, I started a project with a London shelter for homeless people. In that second project, I am working with members of the shelter’s community of guests, staff and volunteers, to examine the sonic environment of the site itself, and to work towards producing audio content that reflects our joint research. What that all has to do with heritage is the question I have now to answer.

I expect that, with the odd foray here or there, I’m unlikely in this blog to move much beyond the topics set out in this brief preamble. But, within those constraints, I do hope to  branch out into wider theoretical / philosophical discussions.



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