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Professor Tom Rice

Associate Professor in Anthropology

Amory B306

My research focuses on the anthropology of sound. I am interested in the possibilities not only of writing about sound and studying the ways in which it is made and interpreted, but also of working with and in sound through radio programmes and audio pieces.


I have conducted ethnographic projects on sound in a variety of contexts, but have tended to focus on institutions. My book Hearing and the Hospital: Sound, Listening, Knowledge and Experience ( is an ethnography of the auditory culture of a London hospital. It focuses on doctors' use of stethoscopic listening and other sound technologies in their diagnostic work, but also examines the techniques of listening used by nurses in their management of ward spaces and explores the ways in which the sounds of the hospital environment are woven into patients' experiences of hospitalisation. A further book, a cultural history of the stethoscope entitled Stethoscope: the making of a medical icon (co-authored with Anna Harris) was published in 2022 (


Between 2018 and 2021 I was PI on the ESRC funded Transforming Social Science project 'Listening to the Zoo'. This project aimed to generate detailed knowledge about how sounds are woven into the experience of zoos for visitors, staff, people who live near zoos and for zoo animals themselves. It set out to explore how listening, and attending to different kinds and qualities of sound, can promote new forms of awareness of human and animal behaviour in the zoo context. As part of the project I made an experimental listening tour of an imaginary zoo. You can access it here: I have also written on prison sound and produced a number of pieces on core concepts in sound studies. 


In addition to sound and auditory culture, my academic interests include human-animal interactions (especially bioacoustics), the anthropology of institutions and medical anthropology.


I blog at:




Many of these are available online here or here


In Press:


Rice, Tom. 2024. 'Zookeepers, noise and care: sound as a medium for symbiotic ethics' in S. Hurn (ed). Anthrozoology as Symbiotic Ethics. London: Routledge.




Rice, Tom. 2023. ‘Paignton and Bristol Zoos, Listening to the Zoo project, 2019’ in Denielle Elliott and Matthew Wolf-Meyer (eds.) Fieldnotes, Raw and Unedited: A Compendium. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Eichel, Kristina., Kristel Jax, Karin Jervert, Tom Rice and Kim Wichera. 2023. 'Sounds in Psychiatry'. In Cora Schmechel, Esto Mader, Alex Steinweg and Kim Wichera (eds.) Get Well Soon, Gegendiagnose III: Kollektive Krisensitzung and psy-kritische Perspektiven, pp 234-255. Edition Assemblage. ISBN 978-3-96042.


Rice, T., A. Reed, A. Badman-King, S. Hurn and P. Rose. 2023. 'A Desirable Privation: exploring silence as a mode of zoo visiting.' TRACE: Journal for Human-Animal Studies 9: 6-32. Open Access


Harris, Anna and Tom Rice. 2022. Stethoscope: the making of a medical icon. London: Reaktion.


Rice, T. 2022. Listening to the Zoo Project Dataset, 2017-2021. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Service. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-855383


McConnel, H., J. Brereton, T. Rice and P. Rose. 2022. 'Do Birds of a Feather Always Flock Together? Assessing Differences in Group and Individual Zoo Enclosure Usage by Comparing Commonly Available Methods’. Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens 3: 71-88.


Rice, T., A. Badman-King, A. Reed, S. Hurn and P. Rose. 2021. 'Listening After the Animals: sound and pastoral care in the zoo'. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S. 0: 1-20). Available on Open Access:


Rice, T., A. Reed, A. Badman-King, S. Hurn and P. Rose. 2021. 'Listening to the Zoo: challenging zoo visiting conventions'. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology. Available on Open Access:


Rice, T. 2021. 'Listening to the Zoo: an experimental listening tour of an imaginary zoo'.


Rose, P., A. Badman-King, S. Hurn and T. Rice. 2021. 'Visitor presence and a changing soundscape, alongside environmental parameters, can predict enclosure usuage in captive flamingos'. Zoo Biolology 40(5): 363-375.


Gruebel, C. and T. Rice. 2021. 'Writing Life No 4: An interview with Tom Rice'. Somatosphere.


Rice, T. and S. Feld. 2020. 'Questioning Acoustemology: an interview with Steven Feld. Sound Studies.


Chandola, T. with T. Rice. 2020. 'Collaborative Listening: on producing a radio documentary in the Govindpuri slums'. In T. Chandola. Listening In To Others: an ethnographic exploration of Govinpuri. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, pp 92-99.


Hauskeller, M. and T. Rice. 2019. 'A Jungly Feeling: the atmospheric design of zoos' in T. Giffero (ed). Atmospheres and Aesthetics: a plural perspective. London: Palgrave MacMillan, pp 147-158.


Rice, T. 2018. 'Acoustemology' in Hilary Callan (ed.) The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. London: Wiley.


Rice, T. 2018. 'Ethnographies of Sound'. In Bull (ed.) Routledge Companion to Sound Studies. Oxford and New York: Routledge, pp 239-248.


Pickering, H. and T. Rice. 2017. 'Noise as "sound of of place": investigating the links between Mary Douglas' work on dirt and sound studies research'. Journal of Sonic Studies 14.


Rice, T. 2016. 'Sounds Inside: prison, prisoners and acoustical agency'. Sound Studies: an interdisciplinary journal 2(1): 1-15.


Rice, T. 2015. Govindpuri Sound. An audio documentary for the BBC World Service exploring the soundscape of the Govindpuri Slums in Delhi from the perspective of its residents.


Rice, T. 2015. 'Listening' in D. Novak and M. Sakakeeny (eds) Keywords in Sound. Durham: Duke University Press.


Rice, T. 2013. Hearing the hospital: sound, listening, knowledge and experience. Canon Pyon: Sean Kingston Press.


Rice, T. 2013. ‘Broadcasting the Body: the public made private in hospital soundscapes’ in G. Born (ed.) Music, Sound and Space: transformations of public and private experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Rice, T. 2012. ‘Sounding Bodies: medical students and the acquisition of stethoscopic perspectives’’ in T. Pinch and K. Bijsterveld (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies. New York: Oxford University Press. https://DOI:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195388947.013.0074


Rice, T. The Art of Water Music. 2011. A documentary for BBC Radio 4 which examined the influence of water and water sounds on music-making.

Rice, T. 2010. ‘Learning to listen: auscultation and the transmission of auditory knowledge’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Special Issue 2010: S41-S61.


Rice, T. 2010. ‘The hallmark of a doctor’: the stethoscope and the making of medical identity. Journal of Material Culture 15(3): 287-301.


Rice, T. 2008. ‘“Beautiful Murmurs”: Stethoscopic Listening and Acoustic Objectification’. The Senses and Society 3(3): 293-306.


Rice, T. 2008. 'The Doctor'. The Erotic Review 86: 74-8.


Rice, T. 2007. 'Listening as Touching and the Dangers of Intimacy. Earshot: journal of the UK and Ireland soundscape community 5: 15-21.


Rice, T. 2005. ‘Getting a Sense of Listening: Placing the Auditory Culture Reader’. Critique of Anthropology 25(2): 199-206.


Rice, T. 2003. ‘Soundselves: An Acoustemology of Sound and Self in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary’. Anthropology Today 19(4): 4-9.

Research supervision


I am interested in supervising students working in the following areas:

sound and listening

the anthropology of the senses

human-animal interactions


the anthropology of institutions (for example hospitals, prisons and other secure environments, schools, zoos)

medical anthropology



Research students

Current PhD students:

Alexandra Onofrei - Ro-minimal identity and community: Fandom, gender, healing, and the impact of COVID-19 on a Romanian-born electronic music genre.

Kerry Sands - Reimagining Greyhounds (second supervisor)

Jess Hooper - Civets in Society: what the transspecies relationships of the family Viverridae can teach us about disappearance in the Anthropocene. (second supervisor)


Completed PhD students:

David Lindsay - Changing Tunes: the performative and affective power of music in prisons (first supervisor, completed 2023)

Michelle Szydlowski - You're Doing it Wrong: Framing Conservation, Colonialism and Care in the Preservation of Species in Nepal (second supervisor, completed 2021)

Emily Stone -  Cat People: an ethnography of more-than-human interrelatedness in the cat fancy (first supervisor, completed 2019)

Eva Shurig - The interdependency of music choice and the social environment in headphone listening (second supervisor, completed 2019).

Katherine Marx - Performing wildness and building wilderness in the spaces of the 'other' (second supervisor, completed 2018).

Sharon Merz - "Crocodiles are the Souls of the Community": an analysis of human-animal relations in Northwestern Benin and its Ontological Implications (second supervsior, completed 2018).

Liz Dennis - Music, dementia and everyday life within a community day care setting (second supervsior, completed 2016).


Postdoctoral supervision:

Dr Elvira Wepfer (2020-21) - Sonic Socialities: how Greek eco-projects employ sound in the endeavour at socio-environmental change (funded by the Swiss National Fund - P2SKP1_191360). 

Dr Trever Hagen (2014-17) - Hearing and Listening in Urban Spaces (HEALUS): sound, health and community (Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship). 


Supervised MA/MRes students:

'The Lonely DJ: liminal experience, cyborgian relations and musical affect protecting student subjectivities in the face of modern risk'. (2003, MRes Dissertation).

Alexei Onofrei - 'Pig cutting' and agrarian development in rural Romania: the remedial properties of human-porcine engagements in the countryside (2017, ESRC-funded MA by Research dissertation).

Eimear McLoughlin - 'We're animal lovers': listening to the slaughterhouse, respecting the animal and a better death. (2017, ESRC-funded MRes dissertation, part of ESRC SWDTC 1+3).

Modules taught

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