Review of Julian Henriques. 2011.Sonic Bodies: Reggae Sound Systems, Performance Techniques, and Ways of Knowing. New York: Continuum.

Mulliken, Seth

The evolution of sound studies over the past decade has been rapid. It would be wrong to say that sound studies is ‘arriving’: it has arrived. But this arrival has not brought with it even a tacit agreement about its place in the academy, and more specifically, within cultural studies. More than likely, this has to do with a lack of agreement about what precisely is being studied. While a comparison to visual studies for sound studies is specious at best, the field of visual studies has long ago ossified into cells of academic interest. Sound studies seems under no such threat of atrophy. As such, books that challenge the boundaries of sound studies continue to appear and examine the diverse roles sound plays in social life. The most cursory glance through the introduction of Julian Henriques’ Sonic Bodies: Reggae Sound Systems, Performance Techniques, and Ways of Knowing reveals a list of scholarly names familiar to any reader of sound studies: Douglas Kahn, Jonathan Sterne, Les Bull, Michael Bull, Mark Katz. Despite the familiarity of these names, Sonic Bodies describes sound studies as a field that offers much variation and dispersion across many areas sites and methods of analysis.


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August 18, 2022