Thursday, 21 November 2019

16:00-18:00

Biosocial Research Seminars - “Your womb: the perfect classroom”: Sonic affect, pre-natal speakers and uterine audiophilia

Brooks Building, Room 2.52

Dr Marie Thompson

School of Film and Media, University of Lincoln

In December 2015, the Spanish company Babypod in collaboration with the singer and former Eurovision entryist Soraya Arnelas held the first ‘concert for foetuses’. Attended by 10 future parents, the show consisted largely of acoustic pop covers of Christmas songs and carols, transmitted to foetuses using the ‘Babypod’ vaginal speaker. With the tagline ‘music is life’, Babypod claims to stimulate vocalization of babies before birth, helping to develop their communication skills in the womb.

This talk addresses the auditory politics of contemporary pre-natal speaker devices. It will ask what kind of futures, temporalities and ‘listeners’ these technologies seek to produce via sonic affect. Drawing attention to the common rhetorical figuration of the sonic as ‘womb-like’, I argue that pre-natal speakers exemplify what I refer to as uterine audiophilia. Just as audiophiles often discount the reproductive medium, uterine audiophilia, I argue, relies upon problematic conceptualisations of pregnancy and fetal life, which disappear both the pregnant person and the broader matrix of reproductive labour.

Event contact David Rousell · d.rousell@mmu.ac.uk