Joella Bitter

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Duke U.

Grant number

Gr. 9375

Approve Date

October 11, 2016

Project Title

Bitter, Joella W., Duke U., Durham, NC - To aid research on 'Sounding the City: Noise Regulation and Everyday Rhythms in Gulu, Uganda,' supervised by Dr. Louise Meintjes

JOELLA W. BITTER, then a graduate student at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, was awarded a grant in October 2016 to aid research on ‘Sounding the City: Noise Regulation and Everyday Rhythms in Gulu, Uganda,’ supervised by Dr. Louise Meintjes. This research explores the role aural- and oral- relationships play in a rapidly changing urban environment, with a focus on the Ugandan city of Gulu. We know from previous research that acoustic markers can enable and inform sociocultural and ecological relations, while oral practices can be a means of unifying social relationships. Building on these ideas, this research seeks to engage aural and oral practices through their material and technical expressions. To what extent do aural and oral practices contribute to or transform the trajectory of urbanization? As the fastest urbanizing area of the world, the African continent functions as a laboratory for exploring the role of sound and noise in urban development. While institutions such as the World Bank, UN-Habitat, and Cities Alliance have taken special interest in guiding the orderly development of such cities in the global south, this research starts from the premise that urbanization occurs not only as a result of official development efforts, but also through the daily activities of urban residents. Through ethnographic research methods that focus on participant-observation with planning experts, music producers, and transport mechanics and sound recording of Gulu’s urban soundscape, this research will suggest ways to conduct an anthropology of the senses that engages technical-vernacular sound knowledges among urban residents, a perspective that may reveal more plural or grounded strategies for guiding the emergence of cities in East Africa.