Department of Anthropology

Sound Studies Lecture Series: Amy Cimini

"Anagrams, Archives and Anamorphoses, or A Noisy Walk to the Archive"

Mon, February 11, 2019 | MRH 2.614

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Sound Studies Lecture Series: Amy Cimini

While most fin du siècle worlds fairs favored Classical architecture whose stolid, balanced look distanced their industrial spectacles from violent conflict with organized labor, the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego emphasized Spanish Colonial and Mission architecture that locates the city as an emanation of Europe and of the Iberian Peninsula, specifically. This talk explores the soundworlds of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in order to understand how the Exposition’s sonic and architectural traces sustain lasting fantasies about history, race, nation and civil society in the city and border region.  As literary theorist Hortense Spillers puts it, “made up in the gaze of Europe, America was as much a discovery on the retinal surface as it was the appropriation of land and historical subjects.” Distortions, displacements, fabrications and palimpsests structure these fantasies and this talk is about seeing and hearing things that are not-quite-not-there. Beginning with parlor songs penned by white settler women and addressed to new arrivals, this talk proposes specifically anagrammic and anamorphic ways of listening to amplify the delirium of empire in San Diego and to address its historical sights and sounds to the present. Committed to practicing research as connection to my local institutions, this work wends between museums, archives, parks and art spaces for a small, delicate and necessarily partial rendering of  sonic entanglements in Alta and Baja California.

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