Panel discussion | Sonic Urbanism


Friday, 23 March 2018
Sursock Museum
The Event

With Richard Sennett, Gascia Ouzounian, and Nathalie Harb. Moderated by Howayda Al-Harithy.
In collaboration with Theatrum Mundi and Recomposing the City
Friday 23 March, 19:00 to 20:30
Auditorium, Level -2
In English
Free admission

Join us for a panel discussion that explores how urbanism can be done sonically, and how this method resonates within Beirut. Panelists Richard Sennett, Gascia Ouzounian, and Nathalie Harb will each present provocations based in their own work, followed by a conversation moderated by Howayda Al-Harithy.

Attention is turning more and more to the way cities sound, from experimental music and acoustic engineering to urban anthropology. But can urbanism really be done sonically? Who decides what is wanted and unwanted noise? What can musical practice teach us about how sounds organize social life? In this panel discussion, three thinkers will present ideas bridging sonic and spatial practice, and debate their implications for the politics of urban life.

Richard Sennett is Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He grew up in the Cabrini Green housing project in Chicago and at an early age became engaged with music, particularly the cello. Over the course of the last five decades, he has written about social life in cities, changes in labor, and social theory. His books include Families Against the City (1970), The Hidden Injuries of Class (1972), The Fall of Public Man (1977), Authority (1980), The Corrosion of Character (1998), Respect (2003), The Culture of the New Capitalism (2006), Together (2012), The Craftsman (2008), and Building and Dwelling (2018). He has had a public career, first as founder of the New York Institute for the Humanities, then as President of the American Council on Work. For the last three decades, he has served as a consultant to various bodies within the United Nations; most recently, he wrote the mission statement for Habitat III, the United Nation's environmental congress. Five years ago, he created Theatrum Mundi, a research center for urban culture, whose board of trustees he now chairs. Among other awards, he has received the Hegel Prize, the Spinoza Prize, an honorary doctorate from the University of Cambridge, and the Centennial Medal from Harvard University. In 2018, Britain awarded him an OBE. He gardens and cooks, as well as continues to play the cello.

Gascia Ouzounian is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Oxford. Her writing on sound art and experimental music has appeared in journals of musicology, sound studies, architecture, and philosophy. Her forthcoming book, Stereophonica, examines concepts and technologies of space from the 1850s to the present day. Ouzounian is co-director of the research group Recomposing the City and artistic director of Optophono, a label that publishes interactive music and sound art.

Nathalie Harb is a multi-disciplinary scenographer. Her work spans across urban interventions, film, theatre, interior, and events. It explores the narrative and poetics of the spaces in relation to the subject with a great focus on crossing cultures. Her projects range from ground breaking plays, selective events to bespoke interiors, through various cities across the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. She lives between London and Beirut.

Howayda Al-Harithy is a Professor of Architecture at the American University of Beirut (AUB), where she has been teaching since 1994. Al-Harithy served as the Chair of the Department of Architecture and Design from 2003 to 2006 and from 2009 to 2012. She was a visiting professor at Harvard University in 1994, at MIT in 1993 and in 2000, and at Georgetown University in 2006. Al-Harithy received her bachelor degree in architecture from Oregon School of Design in 1985, masters in architecture from MIT in 1987, and PhD in art history from Harvard University in 1992. Her research on Islamic art and architecture focuses on the Mamluk period. The research engages theoretical models of interpretation, particularly post-structuralist models, as analytic tools of the production of architectural and urban space. In 2001, she published a monograph in the Bibliotheca Islamica series entitled The Waqf Document of Sultan Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Qalawun.

Theatrum Mundi is an independent research center that seeks to expand the crafts of city-making. We stimulate co-production and exchange between artistic and built environment disciplines in research programs that address issues in the relationship between the design and cultural life of cities. Publications include the book Uncommon Building and the recent report Making Cultural Infrastructure.

Recomposing the City was founded in 2013 in Belfast as a group that brings together sound artists, urbanists, architects, and city planners in examining sound in relation to the urban environment. We host exhibitions, workshops, symposia, concerts, and seminars. Publications include the illustrated texts Soundspace: A Manifesto and The Sound-Considered City: A Guide for Decision-Makers.



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