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Noise, soundscape and heritage: Sound cartographies and urban segregation in twenty-first-century Mexico City

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By means of an auto-ethnography, I problematize the category of ‘noise’ in the context of Iztapalapa, a stigmatized borough of Mexico City. Informed by the interdisciplinary fields of sound studies, aural studies and urbanism, I propose a comparison of two sound maps: the ‘First Map of Noise for the Metropolitan Area of Mexico’s Valley’ and ‘Mexico’s Sound Map’. I argue that the creation of both maps is a symbolic instrument that assists processes of social classification. I historicize the concepts of ‘noise’ and ‘soundscape’ and analyse their uses in official discourses. Paying attention to the concept of ‘sonic heritage’, I discuss the role of official institutions in educating and managing forms of aurality. My investigation is informed by the concept ‘division of aural labour’ to explain asymmetries between people’s urban, aural experiences. I conclude that these two maps add to the social stigma that burdens certain areas historically marginalized by the model of urban segregation.
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Keywords: aural experiences; cultural tourism; intangible heritage; noise; sound cartographies; soundscape; urban segregation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Universidad de Guanajuato

Publication date: July 1, 2017

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  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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