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Lorraine Plourde

Associate Professor of Media Studies and Anthropology

Lorraine Plourde is associate professor of media studies and anthropology. She has conducted ethnographic research on experimental music and listening in Tokyo since 2000. Her research has been funded by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), Fulbright-Hays, and the Northeast Asia Council for the Association for Asian Studies. Her academic interests include avant-garde and experimental aesthetics, sound studies, anthropology of the senses, and animal studies. Her book, Tokyo Listening: Sound and Sense in a Contemporary City was published by Wesleyan University Press in 2019. 

Plourde received her PhD in sociocultural anthropology from Columbia University and her MA in ethnomusicology from the University of Washington.

Representative Courses

Anthropology of Sound and Listening
Introduction to Ethnomusicology
Popular Culture in Contemporary Japan
Japan: Aesthetics, Politics, Modernity
Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology
Research Methods in Media Studies
Fieldwork: Qualitative Methods
Performing Arts in Cross-Cultural Perspective


Tokyo Listening: Sound and Sense in a Contemporary City. Wesleyan University Press, 2019

“Sonic Air-Conditioning: Muzak as Affect Management for Office Workers in Japan.” 2017. The Senses and Society 12(1): 18-34

“Babymetal and the Ambivalence of Cuteness” International Journal of Cultural Studies. 2016.

“Cat Cafes, Affective Labor, and the Healing Boom in Japan,” 2014. Japanese Studies 34(2): 115-133.

“Distraction, Noise, and Ambient Sounds in Tokyo.” 2013. Sound, Space, and Sociality in Modern Japan, pp. 71-88. Edited by Joseph D. Hankins and Carolyn S. Stevens. London: Routledge Press.

Book Review, Babylon East: Performing Dancehall, Roots Reggae, and Rastafari in Japan, by Marvin Sterling. American Anthropologist. September 2011. Vol. 113(3): 532-33.

“Disciplined Listening in Tokyo: Onkyô and Non-Intentional Sounds,” Ethnomusicology Spring/Summer 52 (2): 270-295.

“Toshiya Tsunoda,” in Extract: Portraits of Soundartists, pp. 84-87. Vienna: Nonvisualobjects. Translation from Japanese.