Andrew Moon

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New School U.

Grant number

Gr. 9647

Approve Date

April 16, 2018

Project Title

Moon, Andrew, New School for Social Research, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Making the Archipelago Sound: An Ethnography of Environmental Observation in Indonesia,' supervised by Dr. Hugh Raffles

ANDREW MOON, then a graduate student at The New School, New York, New York, receied funding in April 2018 to aid research on ‘Making the Archipelago Sound: An Ethnography of Environmental Observation in Indonesia,’ supervised by Dr. Hugh Raffles This project investigates how an international scene of earth scientists working at laboratories and field stations in Southeast Asia examines infrasound. Infrasound is conventionally understood to be produced by massive geophysical and industrial disturbances that propagate low-frequency pressure waves in the atmosphere over vast distances. Knowledge about these disturbances is largely limited to surveillance initiatives during the Cold War that operationalized infrasound to locate the source of nuclear tests. Recently, earth scientists trained in seismology have turned to infrasound to uncover the diversity of its source. This has led to the characterization of ice sheets, ocean waves, volcanic vents, ash plumes, planetary atmospheres, and much more. The revitalized interest in infrasound can be understood in response to private and state-science institutions seeking greater remote access to the blind spots of seismic and satellite infrastructure used to measure, standardize, and value environmental risk. Infrasound’s application holds a particular promise in Indonesia, where constant cloud cover and procedural issues relating to the access and maintenance of remote sensing technologies across an archipelago of 17,000 islands are said to hamper the ability to observe and provide early warning of environmental events. The project draws on 12 months of field research and engages with academic debates from the anthropology and social study of science, technology, and value, scholarship on sound studies, transmission arts, and environmental humanities, and postcolonial histories of science and risk to ask three empirical questions: how are low-frequency atmospheric environments produced as sites of scientific observation? How do these observations make second-order artifacts (e.g., information, data, parameters, standards) that demonstrate the provenance of environmental transformation? And how do these practices and artifacts of low-frequency observation situated in Southeast Asia shape the contemporary development of public and private-sector scientific research, labor, planning, and collaboration for environmental hazards?