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Resource ecologies, political economies and the ethics of audio technologies in the Anthropocene

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2020

Eliot Bates*
Department of Music, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, 365 Fifth Ave, New York, NY10016 E-mail:


Understanding how recorded and amplified stage musics contribute towards producing the Anthropocene necessitates attending to complex transnational flows of material, capital and labor, and how they coalesce into technological objects. This is complicated by the wide array of sites, practices and knowledges involved during various stages of the production process, from initial resource extraction, to smelting, component manufacturing, technology assembly, and distribution. To develop a suitable technological ethics, and to understand what happens to environments and to human, animal and plant lifeworlds, requires one to resist abstraction and undertake a global accounting of resource ecologies with recourse to planetary-scale political economy. Towards this goal, I provide a partial account of an early 2000s mic preamp, a mundane but nonetheless fetishised recording studio technological object. I focus on two metals, tin and tantalum, that are primarily extracted for electronics manufacturing, and two building blocks of electronics, solder and capacitors, which are essential for making contemporary electronics.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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