Sonic Archives of Breathlessness

Poppy de Souza


This article conducts a close listening of the Australian podcast series Breathless: The Death of David Dungay Jr., which reports on the death in custody of Aboriginal man David Dungay and his family’s struggle for justice in its wake. Bringing an orientation toward sound and listening into conversation with Christina Sharpe’s concept of “archives of breathlessness,” it argues that Breathless can be heard as part of a larger sonic archive where Black and Indigenous breath is taken, stopped, let go, and held on to, and where the sounds of settler-colonial violence—and resistance to that violence—repeat across time and space. Drawing on notions of repetition, protraction, reckoning and recuperation, I explore the multiple ways “just hearings” in relation to Indigenous struggles for justice in the wake of colonization are stalled, protracted, and refused, while also listening for the sounds of Indigenous resistance, survival and moments of collective breath.


listening, sound, sonic archives, Indigenous deaths in custody, community media, podcasting

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