From “Mama” to 0s and 1s : voicing and listening in the time of Covid

Streaming Media


Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University; University of California Humanities Research Institute

Event Title

Digital Humanities, Pandemic Futures

Document Type





9:40 a.m. -- 10:10 a.m.


Prof. Nina Sun Eidsheim is from the Department of Musicology, UCLA, and University of California Humanities Research Institute.

"Entering academia as a singer, I’ve examined voice, race, and sound from a material and practice-based perspective. I’ve argued that a given voice is not “personal” or “singular,” but collective. That is, each person’s voice is made up of both the sound of their evolving material body and the sound of the socio-cultural pressures under which it was formed, and performs. To a large extent, these pressures are so strong that it is inconceivable for most people to flout them; repercussions include not being recognized, and even being shunned, by a community to which they wish to belong. For some, this can be a matter of life and death. Each vocal community’s listening pedagogy is like a panopticon ear. The panoptican ear coopts the sensorium and is programmed into technology. Referring to examples from the work of actor and play write, Anna Deveare Smith, I will to draw lines from a voice communities’ vocal technique, via the essentializing of the vocal sounds and style, to “confirmation” and amplification through listening pedagogy, including in code. As a small start, in this conversation, I propose concrete measures to turn the skill of the panoptican ear—a skill we all have without necessarily knowing we have it—from an instrument invested in whiteness to a sharp antiracist tool."

This talk was originally presented at the online research training workshop "Digital Humanities, Pandemic Futures" on 23 Oct 2020, co-organised by Centre for Cultural Research and Development, Lingnan University, and the University of California Humanities Research Institute.



Recommended Citation

Eidsheim, N. S. (2020). From “Mama” to 0s and 1s : voicing and listening in the time of Covid [Video podcast]. Retrieved from