“Sound-Politics in Latin America” – University of Costa Rica

How does sound enact social tensions in Latin America’s liberal democracies? In this talk, I expand on my research in Brazil to briefly consider the politics of unwanted sounds in other Latin American countries. In this preliminary analysis, I focus on three sound categories: music, voice, and noise. In the “music” section, I discuss reggaetón and funk carioca, two controversial popular music genres that were attacked and censored as a threat to public civility. The “voice” section focuses on vocal eloquence and elocution in 19th-Century Colombia (a topic analyzed by Ana Maria Ochoa Gautier in her book Aurality) and issues of gendered vocal performance on radio in early 20th-Century Argentina (here I draw on Christine Ehrick’s Radio and the Gendered Soundscape). Finally, the discussion of “noise” traces the history of debates about traffic noise in São Paulo.