Image: Listening to Music by Arthur Bauer from the Noun Project. Source:

Image: Listening to Music by Arthur Bauer from the Noun Project. Source:

Sound Travel: Sonic Values and the Ethics of Mobility Across Tourism Nodes

Tourism and climate change are interrelated, in the most obvious ways, such as polluting transportation modes as well as in less obvious ways, such as tourists’ travel patterns and destination choices altered by natural disaster occurrences around the globe. Sound is one important aspect of changing climate and atmospheric conditions occurring both in and across different tourist destinations. Locale-specific sounds also hold value in tourism economies and landscapes. This research asks how these sound mobilities matter in an ecology of soundscapes that have touristic value and are at the same time both affected by and affect changes in climate and atmospheric quality. What is the role of sound in changing tourism geographies today in an era of anthropogenic climate change? What values do tourists place on sonic environments? And, how is international tourism entangled in ongoing production—and ethics and politics—of sound? This project team will collect and archive a broad array of sounds from tourist destinations in various places in Canada, Europe, India, Thailand, and the Caribbean and Latin America that have experienced effects of climate change, such as hurricane regions, wildfire regions, and regions where rains and flooding are on the rise. Using multi-sited sonic ethnographic methodology, a team of researchers will carry out fieldwork and collect data in different nodes at various times over the span of two years. Multiple methods will be used, such as walk-alongs with tourists to record sounds with “emic” (insider) significance, focusing on aural recording over textual methods of sound observation. This project is innovative because the social production of sonic-scapes in tourism zones is an area of inquiry within studies of the Anthropocene that promises to reveal a dimension of human impact on the environment that has not yet been studied.


PI: Susan Frohlick

Co-PI: David Geary


Vannini, Philip, et al. 2010. “Sounds acts: Elocution, somatic work, and the performance of sonic alignment.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 39(3): 328-353.

Feld, Steven and Donald Brenneis. 2004. “Doing Anthropology in Sound.” American Ethnologist 31(4): 461-474.