More-Than-Representational Geographies of Sound and Music
Edited by Karolina Doughty, Michelle Duffy and Theresa Harada
Chapter 14: Modes of power and sonic affect: urban encounters in Bangkok’s transport infrastructure
Using two short vignettes from my field work study in Bangkok, I explore the intimate connection between sonic affect (Revill 2016, Gallaghar, 2016) and modes of power (Allen 2003, 2011, 2016; McFarlane 2009; Bulkeley 2012) that arise in encounters with sound in this city’s urban infrastructure. While the first encounter discusses the daily playing of the national anthem in Bangkok’s ultra-modern sky train stations, the second encounter reflects on the practice of canal boat drivers switching off the vessel’s engine when passing by the royal palace. The playing of the anthem and the switched-off engines both effect a slowing down and eventual stopping of urban passengers whilst simultaneously pushing urbanites to acknowledge the presence of the monarchy and the nation state. Sound is identified as a crucial affective force that modulates the particular modes of power in these situations that are proposed to be understood as a display of authority and manipulation respectively.
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