Our sounds, our city: Urban soundscapes, critical citizenship and the ‘LimerickSoundscapes’ project | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 2050-9790
  • E-ISSN: 2050-9804



What happens when, in recording an urban soundscape, the actual recording process is handed over to a city’s people? This article explores the methodological, technological and ideological challenges and opportunities faced in a project based in the small, multicultural and post-industrial city of Limerick, in the Midwest of Ireland. The city is currently undergoing a process of urban ‘regeneration’ following decades of challenges (high unemployment rates, rapid demographic shifts brought about by global migration, social disenfranchisement in marginalized neighbourhoods, gangland criminality, and considerable stigmatization by the national media). Facilitated by an interdisciplinary, university-based team involving urban ethnomusicologists, sociologists, media and information technology specialists, and soundscape composers, ‘LimerickSoundscapes’ activates ‘citizen collectors’ as critical collaborators in the research process, as well as partners with a vested interest in representing and recreating their city through local sounds as part of lived experience. The project connects soundscapes and acoustic ecology studies with cultural geography, and with urban, applied ethnomusicology’s focus on human subjects. Through an evocation of ‘critical citizenship’ and ‘creative regions’, ‘LimerickSoundscapes’ offers a particular kind of model for soundscape generation that has the individual as a networked, social being and creative, critical citizen at its core.


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