Situated Listening: Partial Perspectives and Critical Listening Positionality


  • Stephanie Loveless Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Freya Zinovieff Simon Frasier University


Critical listening positionality, as theorized by sound studies scholar, Dylan Robinson, points to the way in which our identities and histories shape what and how we hear. In his 2020 publication, “Hungry Listening,” Robinson remarks of Deep Listening, the practice of sonic attunement developed by composer Pauline Oliveros: “in my experience the meditative opening up of listening through the body has also seemed to distance me from the particularity of listening positionality.” In this paper, we explore the tensions between this “opening up of listening through the body” and the prospect of critical listening positionality. Thinking alongside Robinson, Oliveros, and decolonial scholars such as Rolando Vasquez, we propose frameworks for situated listening that acknowledge the partial perspective of our own listening, while allowing for the porous and transformative experience of attunement to the many presences within, and histories of, the places and times we are embedded in.