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Mics in the ears: how to ask people in Cairo to talk about their sound universes

Lecture Feb. 2012

Vincent Battesti

Mics in the ears: how to ask people in Cairo to talk about their sound universes?
Lecture given at the International Workshop organised by the research team MILSON, with the support of the Fyssen Foundation: “For an Anthropology of Sound Milieux”.
February 16th-17th, 2012, CNRS/FMSH. ‘Le France’ Building and Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Lecture the Thursday, February 16th, during the session “Sonic effects: categorisations and representations” (2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.).



is a research program founded by the Fondation Fyssen
Coordinator: Christine Guillebaud (CNRS, Centre de recherche en ethnomusicologie, CREM-LESC/Université Paris-Ouest Nanterre)

 Abstract of the lecture:

Last year, I presented here a paper that asked falsely ingenuous whether it was possible to do an ethnography of local soundscapes, received and produced in Cairo (Egypt). Nobody was fooled, the answer, as “militant” as scientific, was positive: yes we can, we must surely even do ethnography of neglected sections of our relationship — which is first sensorial — to our ecological and social environment.

With my colleague Nicolas Puig, we set up a an experience since last fall that is still under test. We asked some inhabitants of Cairo — chosen from among our acquaintances / informants for now — to make a routine trip (georeferenced) equipped with microphones stereo (binaural type) in the ears. The goal is that users of public spaces put into words sound events or soundscapes they received or not (or produced or not), with the technique of listen reactivation. Will be presented the first results of this experience, set up to go beyond the usual relatively silence when it comes to sounds, set up to better understand both the specific markers of sensorial universes and the construction of specific ways to live according to the urban areas ... without losing sight of the strong personalities of our informants.
In collaboration with Nicolas Puig

Oct. 28th, 2011. Nicolas Puig at work in Cairo.
Vincent Battesti
Oct. 27th, 2011, Cairo
Vincent Battesti
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Vincent Battesti , "Mics in the ears: how to ask people in Cairo to talk about their sound universes " (online), Anthropoasis |, page published 16 February 2012 (consulted 24 May 2024), available on: