‘Creator gave us two ears and one mouth’


Acoustic Ecology
Environmental Activism

How to Cite

Knight, L. E. (2021). ‘Creator gave us two ears and one mouth’: Soundscapes as signifiers of environmental crisis at the intersections of Indigeneity and Acoustic Ecology. Stream: Interdisciplinary Journal of Communication, 13(1), 37–50. https://doi.org/10.21810/strm.v13i1.297


Acoustic ecology has served as a foundational theoretical field for many sound scholars to understand the soundscape as a signifier for environmental crisis. While sound theorists like R. Murray Schafer and those in the World Soundscape Project have developed ways in which to critically analyze environmental soundscapes, these methods have often excluded Indigenous narratives which offer complex understandings of sound through embodied experience. In this paper I employ a brief description of acoustic ecology, drawing attention to its benefits as a methodological approach to sonic ordering, while also demonstrating the possibilities for expansion of this field when examined in conversation with Canadian Indigenous perspectives and notable sonic activist movements. I address how Indigenous knowledge systems, futurisms, art, and activism can provide critical perspectives within the field of acoustic ecology, which lends well to understanding soundscapes of crisis. I identify a few case studies of sonic forward Indigenous environmental movements which include game design by Elizabeth LaPensée, Rebecca Belmore’s Wave Sound sculpture, and the Round Dance Revolution within the Idle No More movement. In sum, this paper works to bridge the work of acoustic ecology and Indigenous sonic movements to encourage a complex and nuanced relationship to sound, and to explore moments for understanding sonic intersections at the forefront of environmental crisis.

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Copyright (c) 2021 Lauren Elizabeth Knight