Shundana Yusaf, Associate Professor of Architectural History and Theory, gave a plenary talk at the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth Century Society’s Annual Conference 2022 held in Salt Lake City. The conference was hosted by the University of Utah College of Humanities in collaboration with Brigham Young University.
Shundana’s paper, titled Excavating for Women’s Footsteps in Pakistan: A Journey from 19th Century Colonial Archeology to 21st Century Archeoacoustics, presented her recently completed fieldwork in Pakistan for her current book Resonant Tomb: A Feminist History of Sufi Shrines from Medieval to Post Modern Period in Pakistan. She was invited to talk about “Excavating Built Environments” and address how acts of physical digging under the surface of the earth inform architectural history and the past’s impact on our collective present.
She argued that to excavate the role of women in the history of the built environment, the techniques championed by colonial archeologists in the 19th century were a hindrance, not a tool. She instead had found promise in the recent techniques developed by archeoacousticians.
While in Pakistan, she made sound walks, carried out building documentation, and explored the archeoacoustics of eight sites. At its simplest, archeoacoustics reconstruct history through the study of past sounds. This technique has allowed her to computationally simulate what ordinary women heard in public and how they sounded in public space at different historical moments and places.
The Interdisciplinary Nineteenth Century Society’s conference was held from March 23-March 27, 2022. It brought together over 200 scholars in humanities to foreground how exploratory and creative acts of digging down and building up in the 19th century should be studied in hindsight. The transdisciplinary and interconnected investigations at the conference explored the topic from a staggering variety of perspectives. Shout out to Jessica Straley (Associate Professor, Associate Chair, and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of English, University of Utah) and Leslee Thorne-Murphy (Associate Dean, College of Humanities and Associate Professor, Department of English, Brigham Young University) for hosting the wonderful event.