Who Is Speaking? An Empirical Perspective on the Acousmatic Question


  • Jody Kreiman


Recent empirical work has begun to consider the social, political, and biological contexts in which voice information is exploited by both speakers and listeners, making this a fruitful moment to address the points of contact between scientific thought and the critical perspectives put forth in Nina Sun Eidsheim’s The Race of Sound. In that book, voice is viewed as a “thick object” that comprises all facets of identity, including race, gender, social class, age, and many other characteristics. However, in this article I discuss the specific subcase of personal identity as indicated by a name assigned to a voice sample, or by a “same/different” judgment regarding a pair of voices. If we claim, as Eidsheim does, that voice (a thick object) is collective and cultural, deriving meaning from listeners, then how do these views from the domain of critical theory mesh with current scientific thought and empirical data about how listeners determine a speaker’s personal identity—seemingly an important facet of that thick object?





Symposium on The Race of Sound, by Nina Sun Eidsheim