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‘Acoustemology’ conjoins the words ‘acoustic’ and ‘epistemology’ to refer to a sonic way of knowing and being in the world. The term was introduced by anthropologist and ethnomusicologist Steven Feld following his fieldwork among the Kaluli of Papua New Guinea. He sought to describe the highly developed practices of listening, hearing and sounding that characterised Kaluli engagement with their rainforest environment. Feld also used ‘acoustemology’ to expand upon existing vocabulary for the anthropological discussion of human engagement with sound. The term has been taken up by other anthropologists, ethnomusicologists and researchers from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds whose work contributes to what has become known as Sound Studies, and ‘acoustemology’ has become a key word in the conceptual lexicon of contemporary research on auditory culture.
Book chapter entry for forthcoming online Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Editors: Callan H. Wiley. Published by Wiley - forthcoming 2017
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