Sound Made Visible: Radio Sets and Listening Communities in Mandate Palestine

Saturday, January 7, 2012: 9:00 AM
Chicago Ballroom G (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Andrea L. Stanton, University of Denver
Sound Made Visible: Radio Sets and Listening Communities in Mandate Palestine

This talk examines the ways in which consumption and listening practices connected with the visible physicality of 1930s-40s radio sets in Mandate Palestine. Radio sets began arriving to Mandate Palestine in the late 1920s. Industrially produced entertainment objects were not alien to Palestine or the wider region, but radio sets had little value without radio stations to make them "live". The launch of Radio Cairo in 1934 and Radio Jerusalem in 1936 animated these sets, giving local consumers reasons to purchase them - and to insert them within the existing social context.

Specifically, this talk examines the integration of radio sets in Mandate Palestine into local discourses of distinction and social practices, noting their close connection with radio broadcasting. It examines the way sets were marketed in advertising copy: as identifiably foreign-made objects set harmoniously within local contexts, broadcasting Palestinian and Egyptian stations. It describes how radio sets were integrated into existing discourses of distinction, as entry-level luxury items that facilitated the elite aspirations of Palestine's middle-class population. Connecting these two elements, it argues that sets’ prominence in period ads and period discourses reflect notions of a consumer modernity closely connected with radio sets and radio listening.

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