David Suisman

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20132014 Forum on Violence

David Suisman

Associate Professor of History, University of Delaware

Lowering the Boom: Sound, Violence, and the State

Violence is usually a material force, but sound can be a medium of violence too. This project looks beyond the recent "weaponization" of sound (e.g., the military deployment of Long-Range Acoustic Devices; the use of sound as an instrument of torture) to uncover the history of sonic booms as a form of state-produced violence. From the deliberate bombardment of civilian populations in the 1960s for the purposes of psychological and physiological testing to the use of sonic booms to elicit fear and foment confusion among enemy peoples, the production and propagation of sound waves has sometimes had as violent an impact as more visible forms of force. On a theoretical level, the project also explores the difference between violent side effects and violence deliberately enacted.