Sound-Politics in Sao Paulo Noise Control and Administrative Flows
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2018 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved. In this article, I discuss community noise in So Paulo, Brazils wealthiest, largest, and most emblematic modern metropolis. I draw on ethnographic research conducted between 2012 and 2015 with the antinoise agency and the police, the two main institutions responsible for dealing with community noise in the city. I present law enforcement assemblages as both unstable and heterogeneous, managed by people with different (and often diverging) expectations regarding how the city should sound. I expand on Bijstervelds notion of paradox of control and show that the heterogeneity of noise as an umbrella concept, the complexity of its scientific mensuration, and the unsteadiness of its legal encoding make this a particularly difficult object for the state to grasp. After describing the institutional flows inside the antinoise agency, I examine the troublesome ordeal of community noise for the So Paulo police department. The third section of the article introduces the concept of sound-politics, which I define as the ways in which sounds enter (and leave) the sphere of state control. I am particularly interested in how sounds turn into objects susceptible to state intervention through the establishment of specific regulatory, disciplinary, and punishing mechanisms.
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