The project

Which sounds define the city of Lisbon? How tourism affects the sonic environment in the urban context? How sound participates in creating and/or contesting urban ambiances for tourist consumption? What is the role of sound in the cultural and sensory restructuring of touristified urban spaces?

Sounds of Tourism is a four-year research project (Oct 2018 – Sept 2022) that aims at exploring the impact of tourism on the everyday urban public ambiances of the city of Lisbon, with a particular focus on the sonic ambiance.

Sounds of Tourism takes the touristification of historic Lisbon neighborhoods both as a research object and as an analytical lens for investigating the role of sound in the cultural and sensory restructuring of touristified urban spaces. The popularity of Lisbon as a major tourist destination and the impact of tourism and collateral phenomena on the city’s economic, social and cultural environments turned the Portuguese capital city into a timely case study for this project.

Our approach to the topic draws from an interdisciplinary interpretive framework built around the notions of sound environment, urban ambiances and sustainability. The core of this research consists on a sensory ethnography of Lisbon’s main touristic areas, including field research, the recording of soundscapes and interviewing local residents, visitors, policy makers and other stakeholders involved in the development of Lisbon as a tourist city.

To understand the relationship between tourism and the urban acoustic space the project considers two levels of analysis: 1) Urban policy and city planning, and 2) the everyday urban experience of city dwellers and visitors. It is precisely in the interplay between the urban space as it is conceived by city planners and urban designers and the sensory engagement of city dwellers with the built environment that urban ambiances emerge.