On Hearing Together Critically: Making Aural Politics Sensible Through Art & Ethnography

Jen Heuson


This article investigates the politics of sensing through the productions of aurality enacted at tourist and heritage venues in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Drawing on six summers of fieldwork with tourist producers in the region, the article traces how aural experiences and stances are used to make and manage frontier worlds for tourists. It argues that the exploitation and colonization of local Lakota lifeworlds is crucial to producing frontier experiences and that aural modes are the most powerful and subtle means to managing these experiences. It introduces three experiments to critically engage how hearing and listening are shaped along racial lines at these venues and argues for the necessity of more artistic approaches to ethnography. Ultimately, the article claims that anthropologists must grapple with both the representational and sensorial politics of their presently embodied practices and future knowledge productions.


Aurality, Tourism, Heritage production, Sensory politics, Lakota


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