Negotiating Noise in the Home
Beere, P. (2014). Negotiating Noise in the Home (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8779
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8779
Thinking about how to visually observe space and place has long been central to the theory and practice of geographic enquiry. This preoccupation with vision is by no means isolated to geography, and is embedded in the Western privileging of sight as the primary source of knowledge acquisition. Researchers who have sensed the effect that the ‘myopic’ Western sensorium has had on geographic knowledges are engaging more nuanced approaches which acknowledge that the production of places and spaces is multi-sensory. Such perspectives open up new ways to explore the embodied, emotional, and sensuous production of space. With home at the nexus, this thesis contributes to critical geographic thought by exploring the ways in which the senses mediate socio-spatial power relations. In particular, the analysis centres on how experiences of abject and taboo noises affect the production and maintenance of bodies, identities, and spaces. Within a qualitative, poststructuralist approach, I move beyond Foucault’s panoptic surveillant gaze to instead listen to the disciplinary effects of listening and hearing. Feminist discourses of embodiment and gender, Kristeva’s conceptualisation of abjection, and Eliasian notions of manners and etiquette are drawn on to help flesh out the disciplining effects of aurality.Twenty individual and four couple semi-structured in-depth interviews with people living in and around Hamilton, New Zealand, are drawn on to explore the means employed to negotiate abject noises. Attention is paid to how these strategies shape, and are shaped by, expectations of self-discipline and bodily comportment. Dominant narratives that emerged relating to the transgressive experience of noises from sexual activity, toileting, and domestic violence problematise the tendency of the (privileged) Western gaze to fix identity and meaning to boundaries and scales. Revulsion, fascination, imagery, ‘dirt’, and other non-aural phenomena, which abject noises readily communicate across partitioned spaces, suggest that listening and hearing do not happen in isolation. The sensory cross-talk invoked by abjection serves to expose the partiality of the Western five discrete senses model, and affects an ontological and epistemological rethink of how geographers engage with the world.Moving beyond the traditional Western geographic paradigm, I employ sensuous and emotions scholarship from multiple disciplines to offer new ways to understand constructions of corporeal and domicile privacy, discourses which dominate the politics of abject noises in the home. Acknowledging that exposure to abject noises is not uniform across social strata, gender, class, ethnicity, and age are incorporated into the analysis of the flow of power within the socio-spatial experience of abjection. Various cultural sensoria are drawn on to sound out how, through the transgression of bodily and domicile boundaries, abject noises cause the subject and space to leak into each other, and into other bodies. In doing so, I contribute to critical geographies that position the relationship between bodies and place as mutually constitutive.
University of Waikato
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