Tag Archives: sound ethnography

Text Christine Auer: “Affects in political protests”

O texto “Affects in political protests” da Christine Auer foi apresentado  no Workshop “Protestos e Movimentos Sociais Contemporâneos em Portugal” no dia 21 de fevereiro, no ISCTE, Lisboa.


The investigation this paper seeks to explore the significance of affects in current
protest movements against austerity measures in Lisbon. Based on a field research using
the method of sound ethnography, protest forms of new social movements are compared
with more traditional ones like trade-union demonstrations.
According to Brian Massumi, affect has recently become more important to understand
power than ideology. In his opinion, the modulation of affects even substitutes traditional
ideologies in politics. Referring to Spinoza, Massumi perceives affect as a resource of
creativity and potential and suggests that alternative politics should also use this. Based on
these assumptions, the question is: How is affect modulation used by different groups in the framework of current political protest in Lisbon, and what kind of potential does that create?
The data of the investigation is based on recordings collected during a field research in
Lisbon during two weeks of significant protest events in September and November 2012
respectively. The ongoing analysis of the material focuses on a comparison between the
practices of “Que se lixe a troika”- protest alliance that organized one of the biggest
demonstrations in Portugal in recent decades, and other protest movements of the same
time period and moment of history.
The methodological approach is not based on traditional sound studies, but on the idea of an ethnography of the senses. It is presumed that affects can be perceived through the sounds of demonstrations: the way somebody talks while giving an interview, not only the content of political slogans but also the way they are shouted, the fact that some things are audible at a demonstration and others not etc. Thus, the method opens an additional dimension to textual and visual approaches and allows an approximation to a truly thick description.
Like this, the text is also a reflection on the methodology: What can an ethnography of sound contribute to the investigation of social movements?