Anthropology Honors student explores the materiality and agency of sound and music

Congratulations to Haley Stuckey on the successful defense of her thesis "Conducting Enchantment: Organized Sound and Ritual Spaces in Modern and Ancient Worlds." The defense was held on November 8, 2023, under the supervision of a committee composed of David Chicoine (G&A), Chris Barrett (English), and Helena Fietz (G&A). 

Drawing from new materialist theories (e.g., assemblage, Actor-Network), Haley’s thesis explores the materiality and agency of sound and music in different contexts, from the ancient world (as seen through the archaeological excavations of prehistoric ceremonial architecture) through more recent examples (as seen for instance in 21st century live concerts and the online commodification of music). 

Haley’s main argument hinges on the concept of "enchantment," something that anthropologists (e.g., Alfred Gell) have used to break the binary between objects and subjects in many social sciences (e.g., anthropology of art), thus acknowledging the relational ways humans engage with their surroundings and are impacted by them. Drawing from a critical review of the anthropological and archaeological literature, Haley’s innovatively, and with great literary dexterity, investigates the ways through which sound and music can be considered as social agents who impact our lives, from our physical existence through our built settings, memories, and media (e.g., musical instruments, gramophone, digital). 

Haley is set to graduate with Honors in December 2023 with three bachelors (BA in Anthropology, BA in English (Creative Writing), BIS) and minors in Philosophy, History and Sociology. She plans on pursuing graduate studies in archaeology and is currently applying to various graduate programs.