I am an assistant professor of Performance Studies and a Crawley Faculty Fellow at Texas A&M University. My research focuses on what I call “sound-politics” — the channels through which sounds enter (and leave) the sphere of state regulation.
My first book, Sound-Politics in São Paulo (2019), is an ethnographic inquiry about urban noise. The book shows how environmental noise, a major public problem in the largest city in the Americas, has been entangled in disputes about noise measurement protocols, legislative lobbies, law-enforcement priorities, and various types of litigation. The book focuses on two processes: first, the regulatory mechanisms that turn sounds into the all-embracing “noise” susceptible to state intervention; second, the constant attempts of interested groups in either attaching or detaching specific sounds (including musical events, industrial sounds, traffic din, and religious ceremonies) from regulatory scrutiny.
I am now working on a second book, titled State Acoustics in Brazil. This project examines the legal, administrative, political, and technological parameters that mediate the conversion of sounds into instruments of state action. Based on six case studies from 2010s Brazil, State Acoustic in Brazil details how different acoustic arrangements — including the use of wiretapping in criminal investigations, sonic grenades as “mob control” devices, and gunshot-location technology — have been implemented in the country with the promise of advancing a more just, transparent, and efficient state. I argue that a close analysis of controversies surrounding these arrangements, particularly the instances where they break down, provides fertile ground for understanding modern statecraft in the 21st century.