Sounds and Silences: Verbal and Nonverbal Communication in the North

Sounds and Silences: Verbal and Nonverbal Communication in the North

Call for Papers for the Eighth Arctic Workshop of Tartu University, Estonia which will be held from 26-27 May 2017.

Call for Papers Closing Date 28 February 2017 

Northern landscapes inhabit their own specific world of sound, in contrast to southern soundscapes. As relatively few biological species dominate in the North, so there also seems to be little acoustic diversity.

However, people who live on the land experience their environment as animated in which the audible plays an important role. In the world of indigenous hunters and herders, the landscape accommodates various speaking subjects with consciousness and intentionality.

Fire, which is considered ‘natural’ in Western taxonomy, is carefully listened to as it conveys distant news or forewarns the listener of the future.

Successful engagement with animals, domestic and other, may require that they be spoken to them through imitation of their sounds. Knowing the tones of one’s snowmobile or paying attention to old men’s travel stories may be crucial for getting safely from one place to another. In the workshop, we are interested in discussing different concepts of sounds and silences in the circumpolar North.

  • What does it mean to hear and listen in this region?

  • What kinds of agent are imagined to be able to speak?

  • How is the audible related to the invisible?

  • In which social and emotional contexts are silences meaningful and efficacious?

  • How do people move between urban and nonurban soundscapes, mother tongue and a second language, local tacit cosmologies and highly verbal world religions such as evangelical Christianity?

The North has long been a meeting site of different linguistic practices and ideologies. While outsiders often perceive indigenous people as taciturn and silent, locals see outsiders as verbose and noisy. However, we know that storytelling, singing, drumming and lively discussions occasionally fill otherwise quiet forest and tundra camps.

  • Does it make sense at all to depict ‘Northerners’ as silent?

  • What about the situational pragmatics of silence that is used tactically against intrusive others?

  • What kind of relations are created and avoided through uses of language?

  • How can we best analyse the power of words that goes beyond meaning making and produces magical effects?

Papers that discuss these and related issues by anthropologists, folklorists, linguists, semioticians, and others are invited. Doctoral students are also encouraged to participate.

Please send your abstract of up to 300 words to Laur Vallikivi laur.vallikivi@ut.ee by the 28 February 2017.

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