Completed PhD Student
2018 – 2023
Syma Tariq arrived to PhD research through the ongoing radio-art project A Thousand Channels, and works at the intersection of writing, historical research and sonic experimentation. She has long had an interest in sound and its relation to politics, by way of her experience journalism, radio, audio production and DJing.Syma holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Contemporary History from Queen Mary University of London and a Masters in the History of Political Thought from the University of Sussex. She is a recipient of an AHRC TECHNE award.
Image by Christa Holka
Partitioned listening: sonic methodology and the archive after 1947
My thesis approaches the 1947 Partition – the division of the British Raj and the princely states into the independent nations of India and (East and West) Pakistan – as a sonic condition as well as an historical event. This approach furthers Madhavi Menon’s formulation of the Partition as a “condition within which we all labour” (2016), and so considers the production, reception and repetition of sound as vital labour within it. Given the contemporary archival memory boom that Partition has experienced following decades of “silence”, this approach offers new and timely methodological paradigms for Partition studies, while critically expanding the fields of oral history, postcolonial studies and sound studies. Following relevant strands of (feminist) oral history, political anthropology, analytic philosophy, fictive and testimonial outputs and assessments of colonial and archival knowledge production, my methodological framework – titled “partitioned listening” – is centred on the development of a creative audio research practice, included in my thesis as three 'transmissions'. These transmissions are contextualized by my encounters with three aural archives. Through my engagement with sound in many modes – listening to testimony, conducting interviews, and producing sonic work – I provide new critical insights into the forms and processes of the contemporary “postcolonized” (Asif, 2020) archival “regime”. (Azoulay, 2019) The inclusion of both sound and text in this investigation offers a multi-modal engagement with the sonic complexity and aural diffusion that Partition conjures. This experimental approach, which centres listening to and working with voices across time and space, reveals the wider challenges and possibilities that an engagement with listening as method offers for sonic/archival research after colonial rule and division.