Translated Titles

The Sound of Swiftlets: Technologies of Soundscapes and NatureCultures around Malaysian Cubilose Houses


郭育安(Kuo, Yu-An);趙恩潔(Chao, En-Chieh)

Key Words

金絲燕 ; 馬來西亞燕窩產業 ; 聲景 ; 非人能動性 ; 自然文化 ; Swiftlet ; Malaysian cubilose industry ; soundscape ; non-human agency ; NatureCulture



Volume or Term/Year and Month of Publication

31期(2020 / 10 / 01)

Page #

115 - 156

Content Language


Chinese Abstract


English Abstract

Cubilose (swiftlet-saliva) has been seen as a kind of traditional Chinese delicacy for hundreds of years. Despite human practices of "farming" the birds and then using birdsongs to lure them into building new nests, swiftlets remain undomesticated. Humans can only invite the birds to show up and shuffle between "natural habitats" and "human-made habitats." This essay explores the agency of swiftlets and soundscapes in reshaping NatureCultures by analyzing the use of birdsong recordings to stimulate the human-and-bird manufacture of Malaysian cubilose houses. If successful, a cubilose house can gradually become a "natural habitat" and the broadcastings can be stopped. Largely determined by the birds' preferences, the swiftlet-human relations bespeak a kind of "flat ontology" that does not easily exist elsewhere. Meanwhile, whether humans perceive birdsongs as "technologies" or "noises" hinges upon the agency of soundscapes and people's specific imaginations towards nature in cultural cities. By highlighting non-human agency and soundscapes, this research examines how soundscapes draw and dispatch actors, both human and non-human, and create non-binary spaces of NatureCultures. We look at the tricky case of the numerous cubilose houses in urban Georgetown, Penang. The language of cultural heritage maintains a binary nature-culture opposition, which obscures the fact that the two are intimately intertwined in urban cubilose houses. In the ecosystem of the houses, soundscapes are as important as landscapes, and they can help reveal more about cross-species relations elsewhere.

Topic Category 人文學 > 人文學綜合
醫藥衛生 > 醫藥衛生綜合
醫藥衛生 > 醫藥總論
醫藥衛生 > 基礎醫學
醫藥衛生 > 預防保健與衛生學
醫藥衛生 > 社會醫學
社會科學 > 社會科學綜合