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Interventions

Communication Research and Practice

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Edited By Adrienne Shaw and D. Travers Scott

This volume brings together a range of papers that fruitfully engage with the theme of the 2017 Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, held in San Diego, California: Interventions. Here "intervention" points to a range of communication practices that engage with a political event, social phenomena, industrial or socio-cultural practice, in order to alter and disrupt events and the norms and practices that contribute to their occurrence.  Interventions prohibit events from proceeding in a "normal" course. Interventions approach or critique practices and phenomenon resulting from tensions or absences occurring in: events, structures, (institutional governmental, media industry), discourses, and socio-cultural and subcultural events. Intervention presents the opportunity to explore boundaries, assumptions and strategies that appear to be different or irreconcilable, viewing them instead as possibilities for productive engagements. Communication interventions—in both research and practice—insert insights from diverse voices, marginal positions, emerging organizational practices and digital technologies, to broaden and enrich dialogue. Interventions bring complex reframings to events and phenomenon. Interventions seek to alter a course and effect changed practices in a range of spheres: governmental and social institutions, cultural and nongovernmental groups; industry and organizational life, new media and digital spaces, socio-cultural environments, subcultural groups, health environments, affective and behavioral life, and in everyday life.

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7. Hearing the Real: Tanya Tagaq and the Cultural Politics of Wish Sounds (Clare O’Connor)

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7. Hearing the Real: Tanya Tagaq and the Cultural Politics of Wish Sounds

CLARE O’CONNOR

I want to live in worlds that are not supposed to be.

—Tanya Tagaq

When Robert J. Flaherty filmed Nanook of the North (1922), audio technology had not yet caught up with moving pictures. As a result, the classic documentary depicts an arctic landscape without the sounds of wind or animal cries, and an Inuk protagonist without a voice. Early audiences of Flaherty’s controversial tribute to Inuit resilience instead took their sonic cues from a score by white Hollywood composer William Axt. When Nanook’s score was rewritten in 1947 and again in 1975 to keep up with musical fashions, both composers were white Americans (Cooke, 2008). Listening to it today, the 1975 score fortifies the racist stereotypes for which Flaherty is often criticized. To typify what he viewed as the “kind, brave, simple Eskimo,” he directed Nanook (whose real name was Allakariallak) through scenes of staged first encounter—most iconically, one in which Nanook is shown a gramophone and, astonished, tries to eat the shellac record. For Michael Taussig (1993), this scene reveals less about Nanook than about Flaherty’s own objectifying ends: “shouldn’t we assume that this look and this eating is a contrivance not of the ‘primitive’ but of the primitivist film-maker Robert Flaherty?—a set-up job” (p. 200). This set-up involves image and sound, relying heavily on the...

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