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This talk examines how Christine Sun Kim’s multidisciplinary sound art creatively demonstrates multiple modalities of voicing as a revolt against what I term the colonial apparatus of the voice. I use this term to describe how modernity binds conceptions of voice to Man as the human and to a colonial sensorial order that extracts and isolates sound as the meaningful sensory signifier for the voice. Drawing from sound studies, critical ethnic studies, disability studies, and cultural studies, this talk foregrounds the political stakes of a multisensory approach to voice by reckoning with the enduring effects of oralism in deaf education, which Kim’s work incisively critiques. A nineteenth-century pedagogical movement led by hearing people, oralism emphasized the exclusive use of oral speech and lip reading in schools for the deaf, while resting on the belief that oral speech was a fundamental component of human being. While oralism requires Deaf students’ corporeal (self-)mastery – deviations from which are subject to epistemological and corporal discipline and punishment – Kim’s work liberates voicing from this carceral, colonial model by pursuing undisciplinary pedagogies of voicing that interrogate the social production of voices. In addition, Kim’s art practice often reverses oralism’s pedagogical assumptions by teaching hearing people how to hear and participate in non-acoustic practices of voicing. Through close readings grounded in cultural and historical analysis, I argue that Kim’s work testifies to the body’s refusal to be bound, disciplined, and categorized, as she creatively reimagines the body’s capacity to enact voicing as multisensorial, intersubjective, and undisciplined modes of being.
Dr. Iris Blake is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Loyola Marymount University. Previously, she was a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA, where she was affiliated with the Department of Musicology. She received her PhD in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Riverside, and earned her MM in Ethnomusicology from the University of Texas at Austin. Bridging critical ethnic studies, sound studies, performance studies, and cultural studies, her book in progress interrogates how coloniality has shaped knowledge about the voice and analyzes sound installation and multimedia performance as alternative archives for voicing and listening.
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