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The Sonic Frequencies of Childhood: Empire and the Asymmetries of Innocence

13 January 2021 @ 2:30 am - 4:30 pm

header image with a photo of children playing in a large paper mache egg. Image includes the title of the event series; title of the event; date and time of the event; and black and white headshots of the 2 speakers, Hannah Dyer and Casey Mecija.

The queerness of childhood possesses a sonic dimension. When attuned to the child’s sonic enactments of affect and ideation, there is the potential to ethically respond to the traces of history that constitute their realities. Drawing theory and method from critical child studies, Filipinx studies, queer theory, and performance studies, this presentation asks how the transmission of sound shapes geopolitical borders and their childhoods. Moving between diverse scales and sites, including YouTube videos and vocal performances, we explore the queer dimensions of children’s sonic utterances. Of concern here is the psychic life of empire as it poses conflicts for children’s symbolic expression. Linking past to present, we will listen to examples of sound as a modality that undermines the hetero-patriarchal production of childhood in the name of imperialism. Two central arguments guide our thinking: 1. Sound can lead us into the affective excesses of children’s experiences. 2. The child’s creative performance (as symbolization of ambivalence/loss/optimism) helps them to re-sound the adult’s world they have inherited. Towards the goal of locating epistemic significance in the agentic capacities of sound, we grasp at colonial histories of race, social constructions of childhood, and the asymmetries of childhood innocence.

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This talk is a part of the Disrupting Early Childhood: Inheritance, Pedagogy, Curriculum series in the Faculty of Education.