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  • To Listen Differently, Away from Sonic Certitude: Some Propositions, Some Questions

    Carson Cole Arthur, Petero Kalulé, AM Kanngieser

    Chapter from the book: Mandic, D et al. 2023. HEAR.


    If listening is a technique or practice of the law, what would an abolitionary listening sound like? The state listens and demands a listening disposition, listening is critical to all processes of arrest, adjudication and incarceration. The voice of the witness, testimony, becomes evidence. Indeed, the act of listening to the witness becomes evidentiary. But these listenings assume and constrain possibilities for freedom. In this chapter, we move through propositions that invite an opening up to how, if at all, a listening otherwise might take place. The ‘we’ we use is intended to be multi-directional and polyphonic. It is a ‘we’ we use as authors, as readers, and as listeners. Our thinking with and listening to the ‘uncapturable’ seeks to unrepresent monological and univocal narratives of intelligibility, rationality, and social consensus. Rather than strain a hearing, we worry and listen to the very register and sonics of (a) hearing (determinacy, judgement, autonomy).

    Drawing from the writings and sonic articulations, undulations and intervallic cries of Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Albert Ayler, Fred Moten and Dionne Brand we undo the certainty of voice and sound that the law predicates itself upon and surrender to unanticipated openness.

    The material in this chapter has been previously published in another version as ‘Abolitionary Listening: Propositions & Questions’ on the website blog ‘Critical Legal Thinking’ at https://criticallegalthinking.com/2021/09/22/abolitionary-listening-propositions-questions. It is reproduced here in accordance with the same Creative Commons licence (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

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    How to cite this chapter
    Arthur, C et al. 2023. To Listen Differently, Away from Sonic Certitude: Some Propositions, Some Questions. In: Mandic, D et al (eds.), HEAR. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book62.e

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Published on Feb. 14, 2023