Object structure


The “Floating Herstories” Sound Project: a Helical Collaborative Process


Ethnologia Polona 39 2018 (2019)


Gugolati, Maica ; Ramirez, Jorge


Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology Polish Academy of Sciences

Place of publishing:


Date issued/created:



ill. ; 24 cm

Type of object:


Subject and Keywords:

Trinidad & Tobago ; seashell ; audio-electronics ; orality ; art-anthropology ; morphology


This article describes the sound project “Floating Herstories” in all its levels: from its conception and development, to its trial in the field on the island of Trinidad, in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies. Inspired by the childhood experience of hearing a shell on Caribbean seashores, this sound work uses seashells as the medium to transmit stories narrated by women authors from Trinidad. Co-written by its two authors, this article describes the multidisciplinary construction of the project, involving the participation of the three narrators of the soundtrack. Following a situated heritage of storytelling, “Floating Herstories” aims to tell stories collected poetically by the Caribbean Sea. The trial with the finished prototype conveyed the reactions of the population in situ, from which we gathered some meanings about the experience of both telling a story and listening to one. On this basis, the article sets out some questions about the value of silence and selected sound in a familiar or estranged context.


Austin J. 1962. How to Do Things with Words. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Back L. 2007. The Art of Listening, Oxford: Berg Publishers.
Barthelat F., Rim J.E., and Espinosa H.D. 2009. “A review on the structure and mechanical properties of mollusk shells – perspectives on synthetic biomimetic materials”. In B. Bhushan and H. Fuchs (eds.) Applied Scanning Probe Methods XIII: Biomimetics and Industrial Applications.. Berlin: Springer, 17–44.
Bataille G. 1994. Visions of Excess, selected writings 1927–1938. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Benítez -Rojo A. 2001. “Introduction: the repeating island.” In The Repeating Island, Durham: Duke University Press, 1–32.
Bhabha H. K. 1996. “Culture’s in-between”. In S. Hall and P. Du Gay (eds.), Questions of Cultural Identity. London: Sage Publications, 53–60.
Brown L-A. 2018. Decolonial Daughter. Letters from a Black Woman to Her European Son. London: Repeater.
Buczkowski A, and Boron S. 2019. ViaNet Conchology. ViaNet Blog. URL: http://vianetcon-chology.com (accessed 28/11/2019)
Cambridge Dictionary s.v. 2019. Exoticism Definition in English. URL: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/exoticism (accessed 27/11/2019).
Cambridge Dictionary s.v. 2019. Reverberate Definition in English. URL: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/reverberate. (accessed 28/11/2019).
Carrithers M, Collins S. and L u k e s S. (eds.) The Category of the Person. Anthropology, Philosophy, History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1–25.
Chourmouziadou K., and Kang J. 2008. “Acoustic evolution of ancient Greek and Roman theatres”. Applied Acoustics 69, 514–529.
Culjat M.O., Goldenberg D. and Tewari P., Singh RS. 2010. “A review of tissue substitutes for ultrasound imaging”. Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology 36 (6), 861–873.
Debnath L. 2011. “A short history of the Fibonacci and golden numbers with their applications”. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology 42 (3), 337–367.
D F Robot . 2019. DFPlayer Mini SKU DFR0299. Sensors & Modules. URL: https://wiki.dfrobot.com/DFPlayer_Mini_SKU_DFR0299. (accessed 28/11/2019)
Everest FA. and Pohlmann C.K. 2009. Master Handbook of Acoustics. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Fletcher , R. 2006. The Golden section. Nexus Network Journal 8 (1), 67–89.
Gilbert H. and Tompkins J. 1996. “Traditional enactments: ritual and carnival story telling.” In Post-Colonial Drama. Theory, Practice, Politics, London: Routledge, 78–106; 126–137.
Goffman E. [1959] 1969. La Vita Quotidiana come Rappresentazione. [The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life]. Translated by Margherita Ciacci, Bologna: Il Mulino.
Gordon R. 2004. “I Lawa. The construction of masculinity in Trinidad and Tobago Calypso”. In R.E. Reddock (ed.), Interrogating Caribbean Masculinities. Theoretical and Empirical Analyses. Kingston: University of the West Indies Press.
Gugolati M. 2018. PhD Thesis. Pretty Mas’, Visuality and Performance in Trinidad and Tobago’s Contemporary Carnival, West Indies. EHESS Paris, PSL Universities, France.
Gutierrez J. L., Clive G. J., Strayer D. L., and Iribarne O. O.. 2003. “Mollusks as ecosystem engineers: the role of shell production in aquatic habitats”. Oikos 101 (1), 79–90.
Grimshaw A. and Ravetz A. 2015. “The ethnographic turn – and after: a critical approach towards the realignment of art and anthropology”. European Association of Social Anthropologists. Social Anthropology 23 (04), 418–434.
Henriques J. 2011. Sonic Bodies, Reggae Sound Systems, Performance Techniques, and Ways of Knowing. New York: Continuum, 1–18.
Hollis M. 1985. “Of masks and men”. In M. Carrithers, S. Collins and S. Lukes (eds) The Category of the Person, Anthropology Philosophy, History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 217–233.
Huggins S. 2016. “The curators of cultural tradition: storytelling activities of the National Library of Trinidad and Tobago”. Storytelling, Self, Society, 12 (1), Storytelling in Libraries, 66–80
Jiang LT., Smith J.R. 2012. “Seashell effect. Pretouch sensing for robotic grasping”. In 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2851–2858. St Paul, MN, USA: IEEE. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6224985/, (accessed 29/11/2019)
Le Breton D. 2017. Sensing the World. An Anthropology of the Senses. New York: Bloomsbury.
Mauss M. 1985. “A category of the human mind: the notion of person; the notion of self”. In Merriam-Webster Dictionary, s.v. 2019. Note 1. Dialectic: Logic Through Conversation. “Dialogue” Definition. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dialogue#note-1. (accessed 12/08/2019).
Mollusca Base . 2019. MolluscaBase. http://www.molluscabase.org (accessed 18/10/2019).
Muñoz J.E. 1999. Disidentifications. Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Oliveros P. 2011. “Auralizing in the Sonosphere: A Vocabulary for Inner Sound and Sounding”. Journal of visual culture 10 (2), 162–168.
Persaud D., O’Leary JP. 2015. “Fibonacci series, golden proportions, and the human biology”. Austin J Surg 2 (5). 1066.
Portelli A. 2005. “A dialogical relationship. An approach to oral history”. Expressions Annual 14, 1–8.
Pouraghdam R.M. 2016. PhD Thesis. Numerical Analysis and Experiments on the Acoustics of Conch Shells Modelled as Spiral Cavities, 81.
Sasanka P. and Pathak D.N. 2019. Intersections and implications: when anthropology, art practice, and art history converge. In Intersections of Contemporary Art, Anthropology and Art History in South Asia Decoding Visual Worlds, 1–47.
Schaeffner A. 1931. Projet d’une classification nouvelle des instruments de musique. Bulletin du Musée d’Ethnographie du Trocadéro 1, 21–25.
Schneider A. and Wright C . 2010. Between Art and Anthropology: Contemporary Ethnographic Practice. New York: Berg.
Schneider A. and Wright C . 2013. Anthropology and art practice. New York: Bloomsbury.
Schneider A. 2017. Alternative Art and Anthropology: Global Encounters. New York: Bloomsbury.
Spivak G. 1988. Can the subaltern speak? In Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (eds) Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, London: Macmillan.
Stipancic-Klaic I., and Matotek J. 2010. The Golden Ratio. Kyoto: University of Osijek.
Thompson, Krista. 2007. An Eye for the Tropics: Tourism, Photography and Framing the Caribbean. Durham: Duke University Press.
Tuhiwai Smith L. 2012. Decolonizing Methodologies. Research and Indigenous People, London: Zed Books.
Vermeij G.J. 1993. A Natural History of Shells. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Voegelin S. 2010. Listening to Noise and Silence. Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art, New York: Bloomsbury.
Voegelin S. 2014. Sonic Possible Worlds. Hearing the Continuum of Sound. New York: Bloomsbury.


Ethnologia Polona



Start page:


End page:


Resource type:


Detailed Resource Type:




Resource Identifier:

0137-4079 ; doi:10.23858/EthP39.2018.004


IAiE PAN, call no. P 366 ; IAiE PAN, call no. P 367 ; IAiE PAN, call no. P 368 ; click here to follow the link




Creative Commons Attribution BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

Terms of use:

Copyright-protected material. [CC BY-NC-ND 4.0] May be used within the scope specified in Creative Commons Attribution BY-NC-ND 4.0 license, full text available at: ; -

Digitizing institution:

Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Original in:

Library of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences





Citation style: