Zaal 4 slavernij opstellingsfoto creatief verzet soundscape door Vernon Chadlein. FOTO Rick Mandoeng
6 December 2022

Sonic History Writing

Sonic History Writing

For this public seminar we have invited Mary Caton Lingold, Vernon Chatlein and Emily Hansell Clark in conversation to present their work and research around questions of the relationality between history writing and music, and how the transmission and sharing of knowledge in the form of (sonic and material) culture provides a tangible form of historiography – and of archival knowledge. The discussion will be moderated by Carine Zaayman. 

For these presentations we have suggested that the below prompts guide the conversations that will follow:

-What does it mean for musical instruments stored within museum depots and basements to remain unplayed, untouched, and voiceless?

-How can a museum care for its instruments, and rethink its installation designs that display instruments; projecting their sound, their materiality, and their socio-cultural legacies?

-How can the museum create different soundscapes within its space(s)?

-How can we further explore the relational dynamic between history-writing and music?

Registration is free, please email: to reserve a spot. 

When and where: 

Gerbrandszaal, Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden

15.00 - 17.00 CET

image source: Onze Koloniale Erfenis tentoonstelling, Zaal 4 slavernij opstellingen foto creatief verzet soundscape door Vernon Chatlein. FOTO Rick Mandoeng. 

Mary Caton Lingold

Dr. Mary Caton Lingold is Assistant Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is an interdisciplinary scholar specializing in the literature, culture, and music of the early modern African Atlantic world, sound studies, and digital humanities. Her book, tentatively titled "Sound Legacy: Music and Slavery in an African Atlantic World," is forthcoming with UVA Press (Fall 2023). She previously published the co-edited volume Digital Sound Studies (Duke 2018), as well as articles in Early Music, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, and Early American Literature. She is co-creator of Musical Passage: A Voyage to 1688 Jamaica, and guest-editor of a special issue of Reviews in DH on the subject of sound. Active in sound-based approaches to history, Mary Caton also produced a podcast about a song sung by an enslaved woman named Tena. 

Vernon Chatlein

Vernon Chatlein assisted with the sonic display case for Onze Koloniale Erfenis, now on display at the Tropenmuseum. His knowledge of the musical instruments on display, and as a contemporary musician and producer was invaluable for this installation. In 2020, during the pandemic, Chatlein embarked on a research project around the mysterious music style from his native Curaçao called 'Muzik di Zumbi'. The six-month research period on the island has given him many insights in the history of Afro-Curaçaoan music, its contributors and pioneers. This research period also allowed him to dive in the Curaçao archives and find Zikinzá, the extensive collection of field recordings of stories, anecdotes, work songs, lullabies, accounts, legends made in the 1950's and 60's by Pater Paul Brenneker and Elis Juliana. Many musical projects have come to life directly or indirectly as a result of this research made possible by the Urban Arts Talent Grant by Fonds voor Cultuurparticipatie in collaboration with Nowhere Amsterdam.

Emily Hansell Clark

Emily Hansell Clark works on music, sound, and migration in the former Dutch colonial empire, and on the contemporary stewardship of archives of colonial media. She holds a PhD in Ethnomusicology (Columbia University, 2020) and a Masters degree in archival studies. Her recent activities include serving as a postdoctoral researcher on the project Polyvocal Interpretations of Contested Colonial Heritage (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and as guest editor of an issue of The World of Music with the theme Audibilities of Colonialism and Extractivism. Emily will be joining the University of Amsterdam Media Studies department as Assistant Professor of Contested Archives, Media and Memory in 2023.

Carine Zaayman

Carine Zaayman is an artist, curator and scholar committed to critical engagement with colonial archives and collections, specifically those holding strands of Khoekhoe pasts in South Africa. She is a researcher at the Research Center for Material Culture (NMvWC). The main focus of her curatorial work is the project Under Cover of Darkness (, which included an exhibition staged at the Iziko Slave Lodge in Cape Town, that explored the lives of women in servitude, especially slavery, in the early Cape Colony.

Carine Zaayman