Sound Art

I am interested in the aesthetic and documentary possibilities of field recordings and the representation of the ‘everyday’.

I discuss some of the ideas behind my work in ‘Perecquian Soundscapes’ in Charles Forsdick, Andrew Leak and Richard Phillips (eds), Georges Perec’s Geographies; Perecquian Geographies (London: UCL Press, 2019), pp127–139. [open access pdf]

Most material showcased and archived at at Freesound and SoundCloud. and Vimeo.

Exhibitions, projects etc include:

Related blogposts.

Academic CV

Selected Publications



  • ‘Why Fetish?’, New Formations 19 (Spring 1993), pp83-93.
  • ‘Ships at a Distance’ (review essay on Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic), New Formations 23 (Summer 1994), pp115-21.
  • ‘”Talking Patriots”: Americans, Haiti and the “Negro Problem”‘, Studies in Travel Writing 1 (1997), pp141-69.
  • ‘Enduring Fortresses’ (review essay on Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic), Research in African Literatures, Vol 29 No 4 (Winter 1998), pp142-47.
  • ‘”Send Back the Money”: Frederick Douglass and the Free Church of Scotland’ in A Rice & M Crawford (eds), A Liberating Sojourn: Frederick Douglass and Transatlantic Reform (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999), pp31-55.
  • ‘How Burns Helped Break the Shackles of Slavery’,Sunday Herald, 23 January 2000.
  • ‘Africans Abroad’ and ‘Travel Writings by Africans: A Reader’s Guide’, The Journal of African Travel Writing 8/9 (2001), pp74-76, 172-181.
  • ‘Trains and Boats and Planes: Some Reflections on Travel Writing and Public Transport’ in Jan Borm and Jean-Yves Le Disez (eds), Seuils et Traverses: enjeux de l’écriture de voyage (Brest and Versailles: 2002). 2 vols. Vol 1, pp107-115. Reprinted in Travel Writing, edited by Tim Youngs and Charles Forsdick (London: Routledge, 2012), Vol III. pp127-134.
  • ‘At Least One Negro Everywhere: African American Travel Writing’ in Deborah Madsen (ed), Beyond the Borders: American Literature and Post-Colonial Theory (Pluto Press, 2003), pp77-91.
  • ‘What a Difference a Border Makes’, BMa: The Sonia Sanchez Literary Review, Vol 9 No 1 (Special Issue on Black Travel Writing) (Fall 2003), pp137-52.
  • ‘”At Sea – Coloured Passenger”‘ in Bernhard Klein and Gesa Mackenthun (eds), Sea Changes: Historicizing the Ocean (New York: Routledge, 2004), pp149-66.
  • ‘Devolving English Travel Writing’ in Mehmet Emin Özcan (ed), Seuils et Traverses 4: Actes / Borders and Crossings 4: Proceedings (Ankara: Ankara Üniversitesi Basimevi, 2004), pp89-95.
  • ‘From Vaudoux to Voodoo’, Forum for Modern Language Studies, Vol 40 No 4: Special Issue on Caribbean Cultures (Autumn 2004), pp415-25. [download]
  • ‘Jim Crow in Britain’ in Neil Campbell, Jude Davies and George McKay (eds), Issues in Americanisation and Culture: A Handbook (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004), pp77-93.
  • ‘George Lewis and the American Churches’ in Tim Youngs (ed), Travel Writing in the Nineteenth Century: Filling in the Blank Spaces (London: Anthem Press, 2006), pp145-62.
  • ‘Caviar and Toast’, Food, Culture and Society, Vol 11 No 2: Special Issue on Food Journeys (Spring 2008), pp134-48.
  • ‘African Americans on Africa: Colleen J. McElroy and the Rhetoric of Kinship’, Journal of Transatlantic Studies, Vol 7 No 2 (September 2009), pp317-28. [free eprint]
  • ‘”Eh! Eh! Bomba, hen! Hen!”: Making Sense of a Vodou Chant’ in Diana Paton and Maarit Forde (eds), Obeah and Other Powers: The Politics of Caribbean Religion and Healing (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012), pp80-102. [download]
  • ‘”Tire Trouble”: Mules and Men and Automobiles’, Studies in Travel Writing, Vol 17, No 2 (2013), pp174-87. [free eprint]
  • ‘The Oloffson’ in Maria Cristina Fumagalli, Peter Hulme, Owen Robinson and Lesley Wylie (eds), Surveying the American Tropics: A Literary Geography from New York To Rio (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013), pp183-201.
  • ‘”The Greatest Genius that I Had Met in Europe”: The Strange Case of Joseph Jenkins’ in Sebastian Jobs and Gesa Mackenthun (eds), Agents of Transculturation. Border Crossers, Mediators, Go-Betweens (Münster: Waxmann, 2013), pp133-149.
  • ‘Gourdes and Dollars: How Travel Writers Spend Money’ in Charles Forsdick, Corinne Fowler and Ludmilla Kostova (eds), Travel Writing and Ethics: Theory and Practice (London: Routledge, 2014), pp150-164.
  • ‘Perecquian Soundscapes’ in Charles Forsdick, Andrew Leak and Richard Phillips (eds), Georges Perec’s Geographies; Perecquian Geographies (London: UCL Press, 2019), pp127–139. [open access pdf]
  • ‘Guidance and Advice’ in Alasdair Pettinger and Tim Youngs (eds), Routledge Research Companion to Travel Writing (New York: Routledge, 2019), pp139–52.
  • ‘Interview with Autumn Richardson and Richard Skelton’, Studies in Travel Writing, Vol 23, No 4 (2019 forthcoming). [free eprint]

Entries in Encyclopaediae and other Reference Works

  • Literature of Travel and Exploration, edited by Jennifer Speake (New York and London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2003). Entry on England, Twentieth Century.
  • Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism since 1450, edited by Thomas Benjamin (Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007). Entry on Travelogues.
  • Africa and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History, edited by Richard M Juang and Noelle Morrissette (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2008). Entries on Voodoo, Travel Writing, Zora Neale Hurston, Exodus.
  • Oxford Companion to English Literature, 7th edition, edited by Dinah Birch (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). Entries on Nicolas Bouvier, William Wells Brown, Bill Bryson, Contact zone, Nick Danziger, Ethnographic allegory, Colleen J McElroy, H. V. Morton, Redmond O’Hanlon, Michael Palin, Mungo Park, John Gabriel Stedman.
  • The Handbook of Transatlantic North American Studies, edited by Julia Straub (Berlin and Boston: de Gruyter, 2016). Entry on The Black Atlantic.
  • Oxford Bibliographies in British and Irish Literature, edited by Andrew Hadfield (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016). Entry on Travel Writing.
  • Keywords for Travel Writing Studies: A Critical Glossary, edited by Charles Forsdick, Zoë Kinsley and Kathryn Walchester (London: Anthem, 2019). Entries on Companion, Money, Pedestrianism, Psychogeography and Vertical Travel.


Book reviews have appeared in New Formations, Studies in Travel Writing, Times Higher Educational Supplement, New West India Guide, Bulletin of Latin American Research and Journal of American Studies.


  • ‘”Talking Patriots”: Americans, Haiti and the “Negro Problem”‘, Writing Travels, Essex University (July 1992)
  • ‘”Send Back the Money”: Frederick Douglass and the Free Church of Scotland’, Frederick Douglass: A Liberating Sojourn, Keele University (September 1995)
  • ‘Re-Thinking the “Black Atlantic”‘, Collegium of African American Research conference, Liverpool (March 1997)
  • ‘Nobody Ever Imagines Living Here’, Borders and Crossings, Magee College, Derry (July 1998)
  • ‘Frederick Douglass, Walter Scott and Robert Burns’, Collegium of African American Research conference, Münster (March 1999)
  • ‘At Sea – Coloured Passenger’, Black Atlantic colloquium, University of Central Lancashire (May 1999)
  • ‘Frederick Douglass and Walter Scott’, Frederick Douglass: Home and Abroad, Washington DC (September 1999).
  • ‘At Sea – Coloured Passenger’, Textports, Liverpool Hope University (April 2000)
  • ‘Trains and Boats and Planes’, Seuils et Traverses, Brest (July 2000)
  • ‘At Sea – Coloured Passenger’, Sea Changes, Greifswald, Germany (July 2000)
  • ‘At Sea – Coloured Passenger: Experiments in Segregation’, Transatlantic Studies conference, Maastricht, Holland (October 2000)
  • ‘Mules and Men and its Critics’, Looking Back with Pleasure II, Salt Lake City, Utah (October 2000)
  • ‘Travel as Trope in Transatlantic Slave Narratives’, Transatlantic Slave Sites study tour, Lancaster Maritime Museum (March 2001)
  • ‘George Lewis and the American Churches’, Travel, Missions, Empire, University of Aberdeen (June 2001)
  • ‘American Possessions: Dunham and Hurston on Haiti’, Caribbean Research Seminar in the North, University of Newcastle (September 2001). Available on the Society for Caribbean Studies (UK) website.
  • ‘Black British Travel Writing?’, Black British Canon? University of Dundee (November 2001)
  • ‘Jim Crow in Britain’, AMATAS workshop, University of Wolverhampton (March 2002); King Alfred’s College, Winchester (May 2002); University of Liverpool (October 2002), WEA Class, Enfield, London (November 2002)
  • ‘Devolving English Travel Writing’, Home and Abroad, University of Aberdeen (June 2002)
  • ‘A Short History of Voodoo’, University of Central Lancashire (November 2002)
  • ‘A Short History of Voodoo’, University of Central Lancashire (February 2003)
  • ‘What a Difference a Border Makes’, Black Travel Writing, Howard University, Washington DC (April 2003)
  • ‘Devolving English Travel Writing’, Seuils et Traverses, Ankara (July 2003)
  • ‘Frederick Douglass, Scotland and the South’, Across the Great Divide, University of Edinburgh (July 2003).
  • ‘The First African American Travel Book’, Nottingham Trent University (November 2003)
  • ‘Gourdes and Dollars’, University of Edinburgh (February 2004)
  • ‘Jim Crow in Britain’, AMATAS Study Day, University of the West of England (March 2004)
  • ‘A Decade of Black Atlantic Studies’, Africa in Context, University of Hannover (June 2004)
  • ‘Moby-Dick and the Future’, University of Rostock (July 2004)
  • ‘Gourdes and Dollars: How Travel Writers Spend Money’, Borders and Crossings, Birmingham (August 2004)
  • ‘Between “Home” and “Back Home”‘, Exploring Text and Travel, National Maritime Museum, London (March 2005)
  • ‘A Short History of Voodoo’, Nottingham Trent University (May 2005)
  • ‘Jack Chase and Sandy Jenkins’, Frederick Douglass and Herman Melville, New Bedford, Massachusetts (June 2005)
  • ‘Gourdes and Dollars: How Travel Writers Spend Money’, Mobilis in Mobile, University of Hong Kong (July 2005)
  • ‘Caviar and Toast’, Travel, Travel Writing and Food, Trinity College, Oxford (April 2006)
  • ‘Family Resemblances: Colleen McElroy and African American Travel Writing’, Parallel Lives, Parallel Lines, University of Leeds (February 2007)
  • ‘Frederick Douglass and Walter Scott’, Transatlantic Exchange: African Americans and the Celtic Nations, Swansea University (March 2007)
  • ‘”Eh! Eh! Bomba, hen! hen!”: The Curious History of a Voodoo Chant’, Haiti Day, University of Liverpool (October, 2007)
  • “‘Eh! Eh! Bomba, hen! Hen!” Making Sense of a Vodou Chant”, Obeah and Other Powers, University of Newcastle (July 2008)
  • ‘Travel Writing / To and From Haiti’, Haiti Workshop, London Metropolitan University (November 2008)
  • ‘A Short History of Voodoo’, Caribbean Discussion Group, University of Glasgow (April 2009)
  • ‘The Oloffson’, American Tropics, University of Essex (July 2009)
  • ‘Towards a Haitian Literature of Travel’, From Duvalier to Preval, University of London (June 2010).
  • ‘”These New Plantations By The Sea”: The Caribbean Hotel as Site of Exploitation and Scene of Writing’, Post-Slavery in the Francophone Caribbean, University of Liverpool (June 2010). Available online as part of University of Liverpool’s Black Atlantic Resource.
  • ‘Moby-Dick and the Future’, BAAS Annual Conference, University of Central Lancashire (April 2011)
  • ‘Travelling Phrenologically’, 8th Biennial Symbiosis Conference, University of Glasgow (June 2011)
  • ‘Walcott’s Hotels’, Society for Caribbean Studies Conference, International Slavery Museum, Liverpool (June-July 2011)
  • ””Some of the Names Have Been Changed”: Dilemmas Raised by Minor Characters’, Travel and Truth, Oxford (September 2011)
  • ‘”The Greatest Genius I Met in Europe”: The Strange Case of Joseph Jenkins’, Agents of Transculturation: Border-Crossers, Mediators, Go-Betweens, Rostock University (September 2011)
  • ‘Freedom Riders / Writers: The Travel Literature of Desegregation’, The Politics of Travel, Seventh Conference of the International Society for Travel Writing, Georgetown University, Washington DC (March 2012)
  • ‘”Look at this Picture, and This”: Black Travellers and Victorian Print Culture’ (Keynote), African Intellectual Mobilities: Diasporic Travel and Texts, Past and Present, University of York (February 2015)
  • ‘X Marks the Spot: Chiasmus and Travel Writing’, Mobilities and Place symposium, University of Liverpool (May 2015)
  • ‘Earthquake Writing and the Everyday’, After Revolution: Versions and Re-Visions of Haiti, University of Central Lancashire (July 2015)
  • ‘Perecquian Soundscapes’, Perec’s Geographies / Perecquian Geographies, University of Sheffield (May 2016).
  • ‘”A Chield’s Amang You, Taking Notes”: Douglass as a Reader of Burns and Scott’, Frederick Dougass Across and Against Times, Places and Disciplines, Paris (October 2018)
  • ‘”Nothing But Trouble”: The Irish Frontispiece Portraits of Douglass’ 1845 Narrative‘, Black Atlantic Authorship and Art (1818-2018), Edinburgh (November 2018)
  • Panel Discussion, ‘On Human Traffickling & Modern Slavery’ (with Carole Murphy, Bronagh Andrew, Kathy Betteridge), Crossways, Glasgow (May 2019)
  • ‘”The Temperature of Dundee”: Frederick Douglass at School Wynd Chapel, 10 March 1846’, Victorian Renewals, British Association for Victorian Studies Annual Conference, Dundee (August 2019)

Alasdair Pettinger

Alasdair Pettinger studied at the Universities of Birmingham and Essex, completing his PhD in Literature in 1988 while working as a civil servant in London. Since 1992, he has been based in Glasgow, working at the Scottish Music Centre and pursuing his academic interests as an independent scholar. He has held visiting research fellowships at the University of Central Lancashire (2000), Nottingham Trent University (2004-2007) and the University of Liverpool (2010-2013).

He is the editor of Always Elsewhere: Travels of the Black Atlantic (1998), and has published a number of essays reflecting his (overlapping) interests in travel literature, the cultures of slavery and abolitionism, and representations of Haiti. His latest books are Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846 (Edinburgh University Press, 2018) and (co-edited with Tim Youngs), The Routledge Research Companion to Travel Writing (Routledge, 2019).

Other work explores the documentary and aesthetic possibilities of field recordings.

Email: | Twitter: @bulldozia

What’s New

fingers resting on old bound newspaper, partly in focus, pages slightly creased.

A brief summary of recent research and related activities.

MAR 2021. Ten Scottish MinutesCompilation of ten one-minute segments shot in various locations in Scotland, capturing mostly off-screen sounds.

FEB 2021. Panellist on a discussion of Frederick Douglass, Abolitionism, Ireland the Irish as part of Douglass Week.  Text of presentation, ‘From “Black O’Connell” to “Black Douglass”‘ to be posed on this site soon.

JAN 2021. ‘It Was in Sweet Senegal…’ Or Was it?  Some notes on ‘The Slave’s Lament’. New post on this site.

JAN 2021. Engrenages avec Georges Perec.  Short video adding to a scene from the French crime drama Engrenages (‘Spiral’) a recording of Georges Perec enumerating passing traffic in Paris in 1978.

NOV 2020. Didier Daeninckx: Cannibale (1998). Book review on this site.

OCT 2020.  Participated in online discussion and Q&A with Parisa Urquhart following screening of her film Frederick Douglass in Scotland.

OCT 2020. ‘The Temperature of Dundee: Frederick Douglass at School Wynd Chapel, 1846’. Online talk for Abertay Historical Society.

SEP 2020. ‘Some of the Names Have Been Changed.’  New post on this site reflecting on the role of minor characters in travel writing, with examples from Alain de Botton, Roger Green and Sophie Calle.

AUG 2020: Publication of paperback edition of Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846.

JUN 2020: ‘The Other Empire Exhibition, 1938.’  New post on this site about the counter-exhibition organised by the Independent Labour Party during the Exmpire Exhibition in Glasgow 1938.

MAY 2020: Janette Ayachi: Hand Over Mouth Music (2019).  Book review on this site.

APR 2020: publication of interview with Autumn Richardson and Richard Skelton’ Studies in Travel Writing, Vol 23, No 4 (2019). [free eprint]

APR 2020: Jemma Neville, Constitution Street (2019). Book review on this site.

JAN 2020: ‘Rochester: 25 January 1849’. New post on this site about the Burns Supper addressed by Frederick Douglass in 1849, with full transcription of the report in the North Star.

NOV 2019: ‘I have come to tell you something about slavery’. Co-presentation with Bridget Bennett, Norma Gregory, Hannah-Rose Murray, Jade Montserrat, Alan Rice and Anita Rupprecht (chaired by Fionnghuala Sweeney) to mark the opening of the Frederick Douglass Centre, Newcastle University.

NOV 2019: Carnoustie Train Loops. Recordings of eight separate trains passing by the kitchen window of a house in Carnoustie, Angus, looped simultaneously.

OCT 2019: Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846 shortlisted for Saltire History Book of the Year 2019.

OCT 2019: publication of Georges Perec’s Geographies (open access online) which includes a chapter by me on ‘Perecquian Soundscapes’.

AUG 2019: Rauschen und Gesang. A contribution to the Disquiet Junto Project 0398 Rauschen-Bern (‘Make music by making a collage of noises’).

AUG 2019: ‘”The Temperature of Dundee”: Frederick Douglass at School Wynd Chapel, 10 March 1846’.  A paper delivered at Victorian Renewals, British Association for Victorian Studies Annual Conference, Dundee.

AUG 2019: publication of the Routledge Research Companion to Travel Writing – co-edited with Tim Youngs.

APRIL 2019: publication of Keywords for Travel Writing Studies: A Critical Glossary edited by Charles Forsdick, Zoë Kinsley and Kathryn Walchester, which includes entries by me on ‘Companion’, ‘Money’, ‘Pedestrianism’, ‘Psychogeography’ and ‘Vertical Travel.’