Listening to love
Both music and love are conspicuously absent from Hargeysa’s public soundscapes, but behind closed doors lonely love-sufferers and love-hopefuls make sense of various love challenges by listening to love songs. Accounts of the solitary listening practices of a cross-section of Somalilanders reveal this listening to open into uniquely intimate and transformative opportunities for dareen-wadaag (feeling-sharing). These opportunities critically depend on both the attention and intention with which listeners listen and the culturally-elaborated affective affordances of the “voice” of love songs – voices conceived as “love incarnate,” and that model intimacy. In short, listeners do not just listen to love songs, they listen to love. These listening practices call for anthropological models that more fully account for the relationship between culturally situated ears and voices, and the complex interrelation of sound, affect and subjectivity.
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