Sounding wild spaces: inclusive mapmaking through multispecies listening across scales

Eldridge, Alice, Carruthers-Jones, Jonathan and Norum, Roger (2020) Sounding wild spaces: inclusive mapmaking through multispecies listening across scales. In: Bull, Michael and Cobussen, Marcel (eds.) The Bloomsbury handbook of sonic methodologies. Bloomsbury Handbooks . Bloomsbury academic, New York, pp. 615-632. ISBN 9781501338755

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Might listening across scales help us understand, map and protect wild spaces? This chapter considers the potential for listening methods to integrate ethnographic, cartographic, geological and ecological perspectives toward more inclusive map-making. Effective conservation policy and planning must be evidence-based and represent the needs of all species living, working, playing and otherwise becoming in wild spaces. However traditionally methods and frameworks are selected which intrinsically prioritise one perspective over another: satellite imagery maps macro vegetation and structures of the built environment; site-based ecological surveys for flora and fauna give some detail of which organisms dwell at particular sites; and participatory walking methods are increasingly being used to access the knowledge, perception and values of various human stakeholders. These methods stem from diverse disciplines between which there is little interaction or methodological integration, meaning perspectives are de facto incomplete. We need new ways to create maps which integrate empirical, ecological and geophysical data at scale, with personal, particular existences, experiences and knowledges of the myriad non-human and human species which both sustain and depend upon wild spaces. This chapter takes as its point of departure the multi-disciplinary project WILDSENS, which places the acoustic environment (or soundscape) as the locus of interaction of human and non-human actors and processes, biotic and abiotic processes. Set in the Arctic Lapland – one of Europe's largest remaining wildernesses – the project explores methods of listening at and across different scales as a means to integrate empirical and experiential methods, big and small data in the creation of maps of wilderness spaces, and participatory engagement in wild spaces. We describe the impetus, experience and initial insights from recent pilot field work in Abisko on the edge of Europe's largest remaining wilderness, in northern Swedish Lapland. With multi-disciplinary backgrounds in cultural anthropology, soundscape ecology, human geography and the environmental humanities, we carried out ethnographic and ecological methods to engage with the local landscape, wildlife and key local actors from the tourism sector, urban planning, climate research and communication. By figuring the soundscape as the locus of interaction, we consider possible ways to bring both social and ecological matters of concern into earshot for future generations.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Music
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Humanities Lab
Depositing User: Alice Eldridge
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2019 09:02
Last Modified: 21 Jan 2021 13:41

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