Disruption, voice and listening: one-day ‘flipped’ conference

Date & Time:

21st November, 09:00


Online event; the Zoom link will be sent to those who register.


A one-day ‘flipped’ symposium examining the politics, history, and aesthetics of disruption and the voice.

Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research at Birmingham City University is proud to host Disruption, Voice, and Listening, a ‘flipped’ online conference which brings together contributions from historical, cultural, political, technological, and performative/creative perspectives to offer opportunities for rethinking our understanding of voice and listening in the logic of disruption.

For this ‘flipped ‘conference, presenters have produced blog posts and audio recordings which participants are encouraged to engage with in advance of the event. In this format, the panel sessions will engage with the research topics in greater depth, leaving space for more engaging discussions and involvement of and feedback from the audience.


9.00-9.15 Opening Remarks

9.15-10.00 Keynote

Salomé Voegelin’s presentation settles into the online space with the intention of disrupting the visual bias and comfort presented by its AI produced perfect signal-noise ratio. Instead of using the semantic perfection of the online infrastructure developed during COVID to deliver a content on disruption and the voice, it hopes to discuss and practice the exclusion of noise as a voice not heard: suppressed by the violence of technology, grammar, politics and aesthetics. Conjuring from what is not audible a fuzzy absence that sounds as inner voices and murmurings that are not mad but necessary if we want to revision how we see the world. The keynote creates a psychogeography of the digital space. Listening for the ghosts and voices that technology suppresses and our desire for intelligibility and reference ignores, to make accessible as in thinkable their haunting of everything we hear.

Prof. Salomé Voegelin is an artist, writer and researcher engaged in listening as a socio-political practice and interested in sound’s capacity to offer us transversal knowledge strategies. She writes essays, books and text-scores for performance and publication. At the beginning of 2021 her book Sonic Possible Worlds appeared in a revised second edition to expand the discussion of sonic possibility and impossibility of the body. Voegelin is a Professor of Sound at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. She is the lead investigator of the projects Listening across Disciplines and Sounding Knowledge Network.

10.00-10.10 Break

10.10-10.45 Technology, Democracy and Education

Collin Bjork’s podcast of podcasts Disruptive Voices explores the role of the listener in creating the core constituents of true crime podcasting: the ‘truth’ and the ‘crime’. By examining the success of productions such as Serial, Bjork asks what kind of listeners true crime podcasts invoke.

In Disrupting the Post-Pandemic University, Mark Carrigan and Milan Stürmer explore the role of ‘glitching’ in the socio-technical conditions of today’s universities and the consequences for those who are relegated online. Digital platforms can be a help or a hindrance since poor connectivity or audio quality may drastically alter the reception of their contributions.

Chair: Dr. Fadia Dakka

Dr. Collin Bjork is lecturer in science communication at Massey University ,Aotearoa New Zealand. He is a digital rhetorician, science communicator, podcaster, and global teacher. He is the co-producer of the Global Rhetorics podcast.

Dr. Mark Carrigan is a Digital Sociologist at the Manchester Institute of Education where he leads the MA Digital Technologies, Communication & Education (DTCE) and co-lead the DTCE Research & Scholarship group.

Dr. Milan Stürmer is based at Leuphana University Lüneburg’s Institute of Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media (ICAM), where he works on the economic elements of participation, connected with the Media and Participation research project.

10.45-11.30 Movement(s) and Suspension as Modes of Resistance

In The Kinetics of Our Discontent, Mehmet Döşemeci asks why we think of social struggles as movements. Taking a historical perspective, he maintains that this concept is outdated and that we need to rethink the concept of ‘struggle’ as resistance through a politics of motion and its disruption.

In Thinking Suspension, Ben (Chuan) Qin explores the role of teach-outs and the impact of such activities on students during art school strikes. He argues that although the suspension of their studies may be seen as a negative experience, it may also be seen as a moment of constructive resistance and high creativity.

Chair: Pierre d’Alancaisez

Dr. Mehmet Döşemeci is an Associate Professor of History at Bucknell University with research interests in modern Atlantic, European and Middle Eastern history, political theory, labour, feminism, and the New Left. His current book project examines the history of disruption in the modern Atlantic world. He maintains disruptnow.org, a collection of contemporary and historical documents of global disruption.

Ben (Chuan) Qin is a curator and researcher who graduated from the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. His research interest is current higher education strikes and various pedagogical practices during the suspension. He runs Duty-Free Art School, a project which through events and exhibitions explores the relationship between education and the art world.

11.30-11.40 Break

11.40-12.25 Voice, Agency, and the Politics of Visual Arts

In Pandemic Voices, Alma Mileto explores the ‘haptic’ dimension of voice in recent Italian experimentations with ‘cinema of the real’ as a hybrid genre. She focuses, in particular, on the role of voice-off as a political locus of resistance against the flattening of the visual domain in pandemic times.

In In/visibilities, Ann-Katrine Nielsen focuses on women in Afghanistan to renegotiate public space, gender, and subject positions through artistic expression. Nielsen analyses disruptive interventions by artists such as Kubra Khademi and Shamsia Hassani which challenge both Afghan and Western regimes of female (in)visibility.

Chair: Dr. Zaki Nahaboo

Alma Mileto is a PhD researcher in cinema history and theory at Sapienza University of Rome where she investigates the relationship between the visual plane and the off-screen voice in documentary cinema.

Dr Ann-Katrine S. Nielsen is postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Linguistic and Nordic Studies at the University of Oslo. Her research examines the practices of female Afghan artists in exile and their unfolding pasts and futures.

12.25-12.55 Reconceptualizing ‘Afrirurality’

What role do the rural and rustic voices play in the formation of African American identity? In Voice and Visibility, Afrirurality, Rhetorical Rurality Expressed, Kevin J. Hales foregrounds the agency of voices of people living in rural spaces who happen to have dark skin.

Respondent: Kirsten Forkert

Dr Kevin J. Hales is a visiting assistant professor at the Department of Communication at University of Missouri-Columbia. His work focuses on issues of race, social justice, inclusion, conflict, and communication across cultures.

Kirsten Forkert is based at the Birmingham Institute of Media and English at BCU. Her work is based in Cultural Studies and engages with questions around migration and nationalism; her most recent project is the co-authored book How Media and Conflicts Make Migrants.

12.55-13.00 Closing Remarks