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Sonic Intimacy

A Social Theory Centre seminar exploring sound, human and technology relations
in the context of racial capitalism

Speaker: Dr. Malcolm James, Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex, UK.

Discussant: Professor Virinder Kalra, Head, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick, UK.

Video clips of the seminar are available below:
Introduction: Nisha Kapoor
Seminar Talk: Malcom James
Discussant Comments: Virinder Kalra
Audience Q & A

Sonic Intimacy conceptualises the material relationships we have with sound, technology and each other.

Sonic Intimacy is the vibe, hype, groove, grime and soul you already know.

Sonic Intimacy is not a valorisation. It does not imply we should have more or less of it.

Sonic Intimacy describes a set of relations.

Sonic Intimacy is relational (techno-social-sonic), as postcolonial theory would have it.

Sonic Intimacy is in a state of flux.

Sonic Intimacy’s conditions of transformation are of great political importance.

Sonic Intimacies of black diasporic sound cultures are instructive of these high political stakes, because…

Sonic Intimacy carries the resources for wiser, more mutual, less logocentric existences, just as…

Sonic Intimacy is burdened by the barbarity of modernity.

Sonic Intimacy will be the subject of my talk.

Sonic Intimacies of reggae sound systems, jungle pirate radio, and grime YouTube music videos draw these tensions out.

Sonic Intimacy addresses fundamental questions of human freedom in a time of stratospheric capitalism, augmented nationalism and visual-racial-computational capture.


Dr. Malcolm James is author of Sonic Intimacy (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020), a newly published book that explores sound, human and technological relations through racial capitalism. His previous monograph Urban multiculture: youth, politics and cultural transformation in a global city (Palgrave Macmillan 2015) explored the transformation of youth and urban culture in neoliberal Britain.

Professor Virinder Kalra is Head, Department at Sociology, University of Warwick. Select authored and co-authored books include: with Purewal, N. Beyond Religion in India and Pakistan: Gender and Caste, Borders and Boundaries (Routledge 2019), with Shalini, S (eds.) States of Subversion: Radical Politics in Twentieth Century Punjab (Routledge 2016), Sacred and Secular Musics (Bloomsbury Press 2015), with Kapoor, N and Rhodes, J. (eds.) The State of Race(Palgrave Macmillan 2013). Ed. Pakistani Diasporas: Culture, Conflict, Change (Oxford University Press 2009).

March 10, 2021

3 - 5 pm