The Royal Geographical Society is planning to address ASMR at a conference session

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityThe Royal Geographical Society will be holding their Annual International Conference in London, from August 29 to September 1, 2017.

One of the sessions being planned for the conference is titled, “Soundscapes of Wellbeing”. This session will focus on the different ways in which people experience or perceive certain therapeutic benefits from interactions with sound.

And yes, they are interested in incorporating information about ASMR into this session from ASMR researchers.

This is exciting news for several reasons, including that this may be the first international conference to include ASMR on their agenda.

One of the organizers of the session, Rich Gorman, a PhD Researcher from Cardiff University in the UK, shared a ‘Call for Papers’ for the session with me and he also provided more information about their interest in having ASMR addressed at this session.

Below are my questions in bold, his replies in italics, the formal call for papers and participants for this session, his contact information, and a link to the conference website.

How did you and the other session organizers learn about ASMR?

Rich, “Our work more broadly is in the field of human geography; the study of the relations between people, communities, and cultures, across space and place. Geographers have had a lot say about peoples’ relationships, perceptions, and qualitative experiences of health. However, the entanglements evoked by geographic study are often silent in regard to the role of sound in influencing peoples experiences of health and wellbeing.

As such, we’re interested in organising a collection of papers which more actively discuss the way in which people either actively or passively experience (or perceive) certain therapeutic benefits from interactions with sound. This evoked a lot of discussion, interest, and anecdotes from colleagues and friends. Along the way, someone mentioned ASMR!”

Why are you interested in having ASMR addressed at the session?

Rich, “We’re interested in sound and its relationship with wellbeing; the way in which sound can influence perceptions, understandings, and experiences of health either passively or actively.

As part of this, we’re particularly interested in the way that people utilise certain forms of sound in the pursuit of wellbeing. Whether formal sound therapy, animal-based sounds, Tibetan singing bowls, or even ASMR.

As Waldron (2017) notes, ASMR videos are designed to create affective feelings of pleasure, intimacy, and care, with sound playing a central role in facilitating these relations. ASMR’s growing popularity provides an interesting way to think about the way in which people actively engage with sound to create spaces of relaxation.

The highly subjective nature of the ‘ASMR experience’ also provides opportunities for thinking about the different ways that people interact and engage with sound; different ‘triggers’ affect different people.”

What aspects of ASMR would you like to be specifically addressed at the session?

Rich, 

  • “The links between ASMR and wellbeing
  • How individuals use ASMR
  • The gendered, cultured, and sexualised politics of ASMR
  • The entangled materialities of ASMR
  • The role of ASMR in creating (digital) spaces of sociality and community
  • and, The dialectical means by which ASMR sounds are both purposefully created and subjectively experienced”

‘Call for Papers’ (Provided by Rich Gorman):

Soundscapes of Wellbeing

RGS-IBG AC2017, London Tuesday 29th August to Friday 1 September 2017

Session organisers: Laura Colebrooke and Rich Gorman, Cardiff University

Geographers have long recognised the vital interconnection between landscape and wellbeing. Yet the entanglements evoked by geographic study are often silent. Tuning in to the soundscape can produce sophisticated understandings of place, engendering feelings of connection with surroundings, providing different forms of engagement with space (Butler 2007) and geographers in recent years have sought to explore the role of sound in producing and mediating certain environments (Bull 2015) as well as the emotional and affective significance of sonic landscapes (Doughty et al. 2016) (c.f. Gallagher and Prior 2013 for a useful review of the progress in sonic geographies).

However, within geographical discussions of health and wellbeing, sound often continues to be ‘tuned out’, and the rich complexity of the relationships between sound and wellbeing remains unheard. Sounds can evoke emotional resonance, ideologically laden with social relations and power as much as visual stimuli, capable of simultaneously producing places of social inclusion, and atmospheres of exclusion and confrontation (Doughty et al. 2016). Paying attention to the role of sound within spaces of health and wellbeing also creates a way to more critically engage with the heterogeneity of ‘therapeutic’ spaces, and recognizing the fluidity, multiplicity, contingency, and indeterminacy of the ways in which formal and informal spaces and practices emerge that may or may not be conducive to health and wellbeing (Gorman 2016), moving beyond a dualism between urban/industrial/noise and rural/natural/peace.

There is a need for geographies of health and wellbeing to access the more-than-representational invisible immaterialities of sound (Gallagher and Prior 2013), and move to consider the soundscapes of health and wellbeing, exploring the interrelationships, collisions, and confluences between health experiences and the soundscapes within which they are embedded. In addition, we are curious as to the potentials for understanding the materialities of soundscapes and how these may relate to health and wellbeing.

Amidst the rising interest in sonic geography, in this session we wish to bring discussions of health and wellbeing to the fore to ask: how does sound and listening shape our experience and knowledge of health and wellbeing?
We welcome submissions which engage creatively with the idea of soundscapes including papers, sound recordings, installations and performances. These can be empirical or theoretical and might address (but are not limited to) the following topics:

• The potential role for understandings of soundscape to enrich our knowledge of emplaced wellbeing.
• More-than-human relationships at play within soundscapes.
• The heterogeneity of experiences of soundscape – beyond normative framings of ‘natural’ and ‘urban’ sounds.
• The materiality of sound and its relationship with wellbeing and the processes by which sounds constitute environments and practices which harm, and those which heal.
• The soundscapes of healing/treatment practices and how these play a role in experiences of therapy.
• Experiences of sounds such as: white noise, sound therapy, sound induced so-called ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response’, industrial and road noise, binaural beats, silence as well as ‘natural’ soundscapes.
• Synaesthetic experience and wellbeing.

Contributions are welcome from all disciplines and from all career stages.

Please submit abstracts of up to 250 words to colebrookelk@cardiff.ac.uk and gormanr@cardiff.ac.uk no later than 13th February 2017.

Click the following to learn more about the conference:

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