The Sound of Skateboarding: Aspects of a Transcultural Anthropology of Sound

The Sound of Skateboarding: Aspects of a Transcultural Anthropology of Sound

This essay explores how the sound of skateboarding can be studied as a critical analysis and transcultural anthropology of sound. Combining the analysis of the particular sensual aspects of skateboarding with an investigation of the cultural and urban discourses and politics of this performative practice, the article proposes theoretical and methodological perspectives of studying the particular relationship of sound, knowledge and space. Taking as an example the experience of four female skaters skating London’s Brick Lane on a Friday night, the sound of skateboarding is explored as a tool for transcultural intervention into gendered urban space and for constructing alternative socialities.The article sets out to analyse how skateboarding as a sonic, kinaesthetic and social practice incorporates a new way of perceiving the body and of knowing through sound. It emphasises the tacit dimensions of knowledge (cf Polanyi 1966) that are involved in skateboarding and asks how the aspect of sound becomes crucial in this process. Moreover, the article investigates the skateboarder’s activity of skating the city’s architecture as that of an aural architect (cf Blesser 2007): The way in which the skater explores the city’s structures, how much speed, pressure, feeling or emphasis he or she puts into the performance, all influences how the city responds sonically.

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