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Listening with Displacement

Sound, Citizenship, and Disruptive Representations of Migration

Tom Western

This article puts sound at the center of migration. Auditory cultures develop in displacement, while sounds are enrolled in regimes of citizenship, playing a key—but unheard—role in debates about freedom of movement. These ideas are presented through research in Athens, Greece, where people assert sonic belonging in the face of denied asylum, racialized persecution, and EU border politics that play out in urban space. I argue for listening with displacement. Such practices can amplify the creativities of people crossing borders, disrupt normative narratives that present migration as a problem, and challenge representational practices that reify ideas of “refugee crisis.” Migration is a sonic process. Sounds are always moving, and can help us rethink society itself through movement.