Acoustic Surveillance in Brazil
In this talk, I discuss two case studies related to my second book project. First, I consider the adoption of ShotSpotter, a device that detects and locates impulsive sounds to alert the police whenever gunshots are fired. In the early 2010s, ShotSpotter was installed in two urban areas in Brazil with high rates of gun violence. Public officials and private companies involved with the project stated that the technology would revolutionize crime control in the country. However, I show that several local issues ended up affecting ShotSpotter’s performance. Second, I examine wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping as agents in recent presidential crises. The number and significance of these recordings have increased since 2014 when the Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated a series of investigations concerning wide-spread corruption among high-rank politicians and executives. I pay particular attention to the role of audio experts and legal scholars in ascertaining the validity of such recordings, and to the political and legal ramifications of these debates.
Leonardo Cardoso is an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. His work explores sound-making and auditory practices as avenues for studying the state. Cardoso’s first book, Sound-Politics in São Paulo, provides an ethnographic study of urban noise in Brazil’s most populous city. His current research project examines the relations between acoustics and political propaganda, crime control, forensic evidence, and collective deliberation in 21st-century Brazil.