“Empire” is one of those wandering melodies of contemporary social and
cultural analysis, a key word that seems to show up again and again, in any
number of circumstances and settings. So oft- repeated and overrehearsed is
“empire” that the term itself can appear, at times, imperial in character, and in
its incessant display and repetition, it begins to take on qualities of abstrac-
tion. The obsessive iteration of empire (as with a related term, neoliberalism)
leads to a loss of significance; its meaning comes to seem ambiguous, its
power diminished. To propose now that empire be understood within the
sensory realm of the auditory might seem to risk perpetuating an already
Hearing Empire— Imperial Listening
ronald radano and tejumola olaniyan
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