Aural borders, audible migrations: Sound and citizenship in Athens

What does citizenship sound like?

Working at the intersections of ethnomusicology and refugee studies, this research examines soundscapes of displacement. It asks how sound mediates relations between refugee and host communities: How do experiences of forced migration manifest in sound? How do these practices both enable and constrain processes of integration? This is a sonic ethnography of citizenship in Athens – an arrival city in migration journeys into Europe – where EU border logics play out at street level.

Who has the right to make sound?

Music and sound are ways in which people make claims on belonging; but they are elsewhere heard as noise, and become a means of creating borders in urban space. Certain sounds and people are heard as fitting or not fitting within ‘appropriate soundscapes’: of a city, a nation, even a continent. In a political context of restricted freedom of movement, the city becomes a living sound archive of displacement – voicing encounters, solidarities, tensions. By listening to everyday life in protracted displacement, this project aims to offer new perspectives on migration, and disrupt dominant narratives of a European ‘refugee crisis’.

Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs