A Sound Bridge: Listening for the Political in a Digital Age

Aswin Punathambekar, Sriram Mohan


This article examines how catchy sounds (“Why This Kolaveri” [“Why This Murderous Rage”]) can function as sonic cues for political participation. Exploring the sonic dimensions and aural imaginaries at play in mediated public spheres, we show how #Kolaveri became a sound bridge that enabled potent encounters among journalists, politicians, and citizens embroiled in heated debates about corruption in India. Tracing #Kolaveri’s movement across media platforms, we analyze three dimensions of the sonic cue―its availability, performativity, and resonance―that gave it a catalytic charge. Suggesting that sound technologies and practices constitute vital cultural and material infrastructures on which a bridge between the popular and the political can be built, we argue that cases like #Kolaveri disclose new ways of listening for the political and new modes of participation―the expression of sonic citizenship―in a digital era.


sound studies, digital culture, social media, networked publics, media convergence, television, digital politics

Full Text: