Research Forum: Naomi Waltham-Smith The Politics of Listening from the Banlieue to the Gilets Jaunes
Talk of listening is everywhere in political discourse today, but it remains an under-theorized concept in the history of political philosophy. Charting the vicissitudes of listening in the context of socio-economic and racial exclusion and with the emergence of populist and authoritarian variants of neoliberalism in France, Naomi Waltham-Smith talks about her fieldwork making recordings on the streets of Paris. While her microphone captures the sonic traces of postcoloniality, precarity, police brutality, anti-racist organising, and mobilisations against Macronism, leading French (and some Italian) intellectuals have lent their ears—and, with much greater circumspection, their voices—to the causes of the banlieusards and the gilets jaunes. These encounters highlight the challenges that contemporary crises in hegemony and representation represent for their thinking. Critically reflecting on field recording as a research method feeds back into an argument for developing a theory of listening to disentangle the impasses that European political philosophy faces today.