The Politics of Listening


A video recording of this program is now available on the Explore Content section of this website.

Join us for an evening with Christoph Cox in discussion with artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan and poet and archivist Arash Saedinia as they discuss how we listen.

What does it mean to listen politically? What are the audible characteristics of what we hear? Who controls what we listen to or how we listen? Different audio formats, soundscapes and the voice itself can become, or are inherently, politicized. How we listen can shape our understanding of sociopolitical histories, spark desires for activism and alternatively, even create biases and misinformation. We must therefore understand our agency and position in this process and consider how listening can impact democracy.

[Image: reproduced courtesy of quitthistown/Stockimo/Alamy Stock Photo]

  • Program credits

    Christoph Cox

    Christoph Cox is professor of Philosophy at Hampshire College, USA. He is the author of Sonic Flux: Sound, Art, and Metaphysics (2018) and Nietzsche: Naturalism and Interpretation (1999), and co-editor of Realism Materialism Art (2015) and Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music (2017 second edition). The recipient of an Arts Writers Grant from Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation, he is also editor-at-large of Cabinet magazine. His writing has appeared in ranging from Artforum, and The Wire, to the Journal of the History of Philosophy, Journal of Visual Culture, and The Review of Metaphysics. He has also curated exhibitions at multiple venues including the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and CONTEXT Art Miami.

    Arash Saedinia

    Arash Saedinia professor of English at Los Angeles City College, having studied political science at UC Berkeley, and law at Harvard University. His published poetry has appeared in the Iranian diasporic journal Chanteh, and in A World Between: Poems, Short Stories and Essays by Iranian-Americans (1999). His translations of works by Iranian poets Nima Yushij and Sohrab Sepehri have appeared in B|ta’arof magazine, for which he was also a contributing editor. Visual work includes photography featured in the exhibition Document: Iranian-Americans in Los Angeles at UC Los Angeles Fowler Museum, and the seminal compilation Pomegranates: Persian Pop, Funk, Folk and Psych of the 60s and 70s (Finders Keepers Music), and Displacements (Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles). His most recent film O, Cyrus appeared as part of compendium of works produced on the occasion of the Cyrus Cylinder's international tour.

    Lawrence Abu Hamdan

    Lawrence Abu Hamdan is an artist and audio investigator. Abu Hamdan’s interest with sound and its intersection with politics originate from his background as a touring musician and facilitator of DIY music. His audio investigations have been used as evidence at the UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and as advocacy for organizations such as Amnesty International and Defence for Children International. His forensic audio investigations were also part of his research in Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths College London, where he received his PhD in 2017. Most recently he was the recipient of the 2018 Abraaj group art prize and won the Turner Prize in 2019 as part of a collective. Exhibitions of his work have appeared at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018), Kunsthalle St Gallen (2015), and Beirut in Cairo art space (2013).