J. Martin Daughtry is an ethnomusicologist in the NYU music department. Co-editor of Music in the Post-9/11 World (Routledge 2007) and author of articles on Russian musical nationalism, intermedial adaptation, and underground dissemination of music in the USSR, he is currently finishing a monograph on the sonic dimension of the Iraq war.
"Evocative Objects and Provocative Actions on the Acoustic Territory of War"
A new combat helmet, designed to enhance the wearer's hearing;
A sectarian fighter tosses a homemade bomb into a Baghdad music store;
A cell phone with the Hussein-era air raid siren as its ringtone;
PSYOP troops play Iraqi pop to win local hearts and minds;
A broken pair of consumer-grade earphones attached to an iPod in the desert;
A 12-foot concrete blast wall is erected between neighborhoods;
An overwhelmingly loud computer-controlled Gatling gun;
A mother stuffs cotton balls in her baby's ears.
This paper is based on four years of work with US military service members, Iraqi civilians, and a sound recording trip to Iraq undertaken in 2011. In it, I sift through a collection of "evocative objects" (Turkle 2007) and wartime acts in search of a theory for understanding the complicated ways in which music and sound reverberate through the fraught acoustic territories (LaBelle 2010) of the Iraq War.
LaBelle, Brandon. 2010. _Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life._ New York and London: Continuum.
Turkle, Sherry, ed. 2007. _Evocative Objects: Things We Think With._ Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.