’Sonic Interventions’ - New Podcast Set Up to Celebrate Black History Month

The Collaborative Research Center 1512 "Intervening Arts" at Freie Universität Berlin is launching a podcast series on sound, culture, and society

In honor of Black History Month, the new Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1512 "Intervening Arts" based at Freie Universität Berlin will be shining a light on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in society and higher education by addressing questions surrounding societal participation and equal rights and amplifying the voices of Black people through the podcast "Sonic Interventions." The first two episodes are available to listen to now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Deezer, with new episodes released every two weeks. 

The first season presents interviews in English with African-American artists, scholars, and activists based in New York who think and work with sound. The first episode features Mendi + Keith Obadike, an Igbo-Nigerian-American couple working as sound artists and scholars in New York. The following episodes showcase the work of guests like musician and yogi Najee Wilson, who will invite the audience to listen to quiet and silent forms, and activist and theater director Charlene Jean, who will speak about the history of free Black communities in Brooklyn in the nineteenth century and the contemporary musical play "BRICKS" on "Retroactive Reparations." Sonic Interventions will be a podcast that centers voices that have often been overheard or misheard, inspiring us to pay more (or a different kind of) attention.

The new podcast was initiated by the CRC 1512 and its research team in project B05 "Acoustic Disruptions" led by Professor Doris Kolesch, who is also head of the Institute of Theater Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. Kolesch is known in particular for her research on the phenomenologies of voice in relation to performance studies. The podcast is conceived and hosted by Dr. Layla Zami, a postdoctoral researcher in project B05 and former co-chair of Black Lives Matter at Pratt Institute in New York City. The performance scholar and artist is currently conducting research on the poetics of sonic interventions, with a focus on the potentialities of Black Resistance in and through sound. 

Black History Month, held annually in February, raises awareness on the history and the sociopolitical realities of Black Communities in the United States and worldwide. Initially founded as a week-long event by Cater Godwin Woodson in 1926, it was extended to a month-long celebration fifty years later. Woodson wanted to acknowledge the contributions of Black people to civilization and to call for a re-thinking and re-doing of (hi)story and archiving. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) supports the central coordination of Black History Month and chooses a central topic every year. The focus for 2023 is "Black Resistance," a topic that reminds us that Black lives matter and that all humans should be treated equally.

The Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1512 "Intervening Arts" began work in January 2022. It gives researchers from Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin University of the Arts, the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), and Leuphana University Lüneburg a framework to explore how artistic perspectives and positions impact societal processes, with a focus on the relationship between art, society, and politics. The spokesperson for the research center is Jürgen Brokoff, professor of modern German literature at Freie Universität Berlin. CRC 1512 will be cooperating with non-university partners throughout its initial funding period of four years.