Benjamin Tausig

Sound, Music, Asian Studies

Stony Brook University

Recent news

The pandemic is affecting women in profound but often invisible ways. Please support women and caretakers through national paid family leave!

I am an elected delegate in my labor union, and am working with a progressive faction of the union.

I am Vice President of MACSEM, and helped to organize our most recent conference in April 2021.

I stand in solidarity with Thailand’s Free Youth movement (actively where possible, in these times), which advocates with breathtaking bravery for democracy as well as the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights in Thailand.

Some things:

Sign up for the newsletter about my current research. (Thai-US nightlife encounters during the American war in Vietnam)

Maurice Rocco’s blisteringly good cameo in the film Incendiary Blonde. Rocco is a key figure in my current research.

Book (2019):

Bangkok Is Ringing: Sound, Protest, and Constraint

[Thai translation forthcoming 2021 through Soi Press]

Talks and events


lectures/colloquia/workshops at Boston University, SUNY-Purchase, Duke University, Reed College, and University of Maryland (winter-spring); MACSEM (April); Utrecht University (June); public remarks at Maurice Rocco’s memorial in Oxford, Ohio (Fall)


guest DJ set on WFMU (January); keynote lecture at the Spectrum Protestival in Brooklyn (January, New Yorker write-up here); Harvard University (March (postponed)); Association for Asian Studies conference (March (postponed)); Talk with Whitney Biennial artist Korakrit Arunanondchai (postponed).


Triple Canopy with Maureen Mahon; Lenox Hill Neighborhood House; Wesleyan University; “On Archival Truths” symposium at Stony Brook

Recent interviews and reviews

review of Bangkok Is Ringing in Situations: Cultural Studies in the Asian Context (Coeli Barry)

review of Bangkok Is Ringing in Asian Studies (Niti Pawakapan)

review of Bangkok Is Ringing in Sound Studies (Cade Bourne)

review of Bangkok Is Ringing in Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia (Nathan Porath)

interview about Bangkok Is Ringing on the New Books Network (Patrick Jory)

review of Bangkok Is Ringing in Mekong Review (Chris Baker)

interview about Bangkok Is Ringing on The Field Recording Show (Kate Carr)

interview about Bangkok Is Ringing with CaMP Anthropology (Ilana Gershon and Mack Hagood)

interview about aural refusal with Somatic Podcast (Samuel Clevinger)

Listen to the audio edition of “Bangkok Is Ringing” at the links in the TOC below (chapters available on a rolling basis, as they finish production). The audio edition will eventually include the complete text of the book, narrated by 18 different readers, with field recordings and other audio interspersed. It is a podcast/audiobook hybrid. Please enjoy in tandem with or instead of the print version, and distribute freely.

AUDIO EDITION (brief guide to the audio edition)

INTRODUCTION: Sound, Protest Space, & Constraint (listen now)
Chapter 1 Completely Packed In (listen now)
Chapter 2 Red Sunday: Power and Connections (listen now)
Chapter 3 Atrocity Broadcasts (listen now)
Chapter 4 Wireless Road and the Ground of Modernity (listen now)
Chapter 5 Megaphone Singing
Chapter 6 Megaphonic Somsak Sangkaparicha Comes by His Goddamn Self
Chapter 7 A Quiet Mourning: The Poetry of Dynamics
Chapter 8 Whistles
Chapter 9 Vehicular Stereo Systems
Chapter 10 Developing Musical Economies I: CD Vendors
Chapter 11 Developing Musical Economies II: Stage Musicians
Chapter 12 Spontaneous Chants
Chapter 13 Developing Musical Economies III: Mr. Bear
Chapter 14 Surveillance
Chapter 15 Outer Space
Chapter 16 The Vanishing Point
Conclusion: On Mediated Spatiality

About the author

I teach sound studies and music, and research sound and dissent in Southeast Asia. I am currently researching the musical intimacies of Thailand during the Vietnam War, including the largely-forgotten (though no less astounding) American jazz pianist Maurice Rocco, who lived in Bangkok for fifteen years. Here is one of Rocco’s videos, a Soundie filmed in 1943, which is a characteristically stunning performance. In this research project, I’m looking at the ways that music and nightlife were at the center of Thailand’s neocolonial development from the 1950s through the 1970s. I’m been doing fieldwork and archival work for a while in Thailand and other places — sign up for my fieldwork newsletter here. I’m enthusiastically reading Daniel Fineman on Thai-US relations, Felicity Aulino on care and aging in Thailand, Rong Wongsawan on Thailand in the aftermath of Vietnam, Ara Wilson on intimate economies, Wallace Terry on the black experience of Vietnam, Richard Wright on Afro-Asianism, and Ann Stoler on archives.

Recent Publications


“Climates of Dissent,” in Oxford Handbook of Protest Music (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)


Bangkok Is Ringing: Sound, Protest, and Constraint (Oxford University Press)

“The Spoiled and the Salvaged: Modulations of Auditory Value in Bangalore, India and Bangkok, Thailand” (co-authored with Michele Friedner), in Remapping Sound Studies, Gavin Steingo and Jim Sykes, eds. (Duke University Press)

Introduction: At Risk of Repetition,” in “Women’s March Colloquy,” Music & Politics 8(1) (Winter 2019).

The Audible Future,” in Journal of Popular Music Studies 31 (2) (2019).


“Sound and Movement: Vernaculars of Sonic Dissent,” Social Text 36(13) (September)


“The Limits of Resistance,” Modernism/Modernity (“In These Times” series)

“Mysterious Sounds and Scary Illnesses,” New York Times (with Lisa Diedrich). October 10, 2017.


“This is What It Sounds Like … On Prince (1958-2016) and Interpretive Freedom,” Sounding Out!

“A Division of Listening: Insurgent Sympathy and the Sonic Broadcasts of the Thai Military,” positions: asia critique 24(2)


“Neoliberalism’s Moral Overtones: Music, Money, and Morality at Thailand’s Red Shirt Protests,” Culture, Theory and Critique 55(2)

Upcoming and Recent Courses at Stony Brook University

Spring 2021

MUS 313 Hearing Politics

MUS 536 Bodies and Sex in Electronic Music

Fall 2020 

MUS 109 Rock, Pop Music, and Society

MUS 542 Theory in Sound Studies (with guests Nina Eidsheim, Jeff Dyer, David Grubbs, and Mack Hagood)

Spring 2020

MUS 451 Methods in Ethnomusicology (undergrad)

MUS 537 Ethnographic Methods (with guests K.E. Goldschmitt, Rachel Mundy, Marié Abe, Maria Sonevytsky, Shirley Lim)

Fall 2019

MUS109  Rock, Pop Music, and Society

MUS 536 Music and Disruption

Spring 2019 on leave