"Sonic Informatics: 'Processing' the Ethnicized Soundscape in Zimbabwean Migrant Fiction"
My project "Sonic Informatics: 'Processing' the Ethnicized Soundscape in Zimbabwean Migrant Fiction" explores the literary representation of black Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa. I employ sound as a methodology for reading contemporary Zimbabwean migrant fiction to demonstrate how migratory aesthetics engage with what I term the Ethnicized Soundscape. I argue that a sonic approach to reading and interpreting narratives of displacement challenges the treatment of sound as a supplementary effect of vision rather than as epistemology in its own right, a way of knowing. A sound-focused reading disrupts how conventional genres of migration convey information about displaced people. Processing the Ethnicized Soundscape through literary texts is the contemporary conjunction between orality and literacy. My work employs Sound Studies methodology to offer a unique way of analyzing fiction that depicts migrants' lived experiences because aurality in sub-Saharan Africa is perceived as orature; that is, the oral written down. I maintain that studying the Ethnicized Soundscape provides a broader understanding of inter-black migrant relations in South Africa. The ear, I argue, is the computational system that receives sound and makes meaning. In this context, informatics work with the ear as the computer that emits soundbites interpreted within the Ethnicized Soundscape. Sonic informatics is a new intervention that I bring to studying black African migrants' communicative practices in South Africa.