Anja Kanngieser is a political geographer and sound artist. As an interdisciplinary scholar, they bring creative methods to the investigation of space and politics. Anja’s current research broadly considers how sound reveals political, social, and economic relations between humans, environments and systems of governance. In their work Anja begins with the premise of sound as a constant, a phenomenon that is always present – whether heard, felt, or sensed by human or non-human species and technologies.
With a background in political geography and communication studies, Anja’s interest in the politics of sound has grown out of a long-standing crossover between geopolitics, creativity and social justice. Their first book Experimental Politics and the Making of Worlds explored creative activism as a means for opening up channels of communication between different urban groups, to find common sites for protest. Examining campaigns on precarious living and working conditions, migration, and higher education, Experimental Politics and the Making of Worlds argues for creativity within strategies for building community self-determination. Following from this, Anja has done ethnographic research into conditions of labour and union organisation in the creative sectors in China and in special economic zones in India. Bringing a creative lens to struggles for autonomy, Anja has examined the use of voice and sound technologies for mapping movement in logistics, micro radio in Japanese urban politics, sound weapons in the governance of public space and protest, and the role of voice and sound in political organisation.
Anja's most current projects use testimony, field recording and data sonification to document and amplify social justice responses to the effects of climate change in the Pacific. Climates of Listening is orientated towards the ways in which communities fight to determine their own conditions of living, organizing and moving in the face of global environmental change, emphasizing the work of Pacific climate movements and movements for self-determination that go beyond narratives of climate resilience or vulnerability. Contested Environments examines the intersections of climate and geopolitics in the region, specifically focused on how communities respond to climate change in the face of ongoing colonial violence: the legacies of nuclear testing and storage, climate migration and the detention industry, and propositions for deep sea mining.
Anja’s writing has been published in a range of interdisciplinary journals including WIRES Climate Change, Progress in Human Geography, Environment and Planning D, Political Geography, Geohumanities, South Atlantic Quarterly, Deleuze Studies, Media Culture and Society, and Journal of Sonic Studies. In 2013 Anja was the recipient of the Progress in Human Geography Best Essay Prize for an Early Career Researcher. Anja’s commentary and think pieces have also appeared in Red Pepper, Mute, EIPCP, The Sociological Imagination, and Geocritique. Anja is an editorial board member of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.
Anja is currently a Vice Chancellors Fellow at the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research at the University of Wollongong. They have held a Lectureship post at Goldsmiths College (Sociology) and a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. Anja has been awarded grants by Antipode, the Economic and Social Research Council, the British Academy/ Leverhulme, and the Australian Research Council. Anja has been awarded funding for their artistic work by Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, ABC Radio National, Arts Admin, Sound and Music, Live Art Development Agency, Transmediale Berlin, and Liquid Architecture. In 2017 Anja’s collaborative radio work “And then the sea came back” was Jury nominated for the Prix Ars Electronica. Their sound work has been reviewed in publications such as The Wire – Adventures in Sound and Music, The Quietus and The Outline