Photo of Dr Tom Rice

Dr Tom Rice

Senior Lecturer (Anthropology)

Amory B306

My research focuses on the anthropology of sound. My PhD was a study of the auditory culture of a London hospital. It focused on doctors' use of stethoscopic listening and other sound technologies in their diagnostic work, but it also examined the techniques of listening used by nurses in their management of ward spaces and explored the ways in which the sounds of the hospital environment became woven into patients' experiences of hospitalisation. My book on this research is entitled Hearing and the Hospital: Sound, Listening, Knowledge and Experience (Sean Kingston Publishing). I am interested in the possibilities not only of writing about sound and studying the ways in which it is used and interpreted, but also of using sound recordings in ethnographic representation. In 2011 I made a documentary for BBC Radio 4 entitled The Art of Water Music, which examined the influence of water and water sounds on music-making. You can read about and listen to the programme here: In 2015 I produced and presented a documentary entitled Govindpuri Sound for the BBC World Service. The programme explores the soundscape of the Govindpuri Slums in South Delhi. You can read about and listen to the programme here: My other interests include bioacoustics (on which I teach for Exeter's MA programnme in Anthrozoology or human-animal interactions), ethnographic filmmaking and the anthropology of institutions. I am currently PI on the ESRC Transforming Social Science grant 'Listening to the Zoo'. I am also a Co-Investigator on the Exeter Anthrozoology and Symbiotic Ethics (EASE) Working Group:

Some of my publications are listed below. Please contact me if you would like PDFs or visit


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

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

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. '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.

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. 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 (including music, radio, sound recording, sound editing and composition)

the anthropology of the senses

human-animal interactions (particularly in relation to bioacoustics)

the anthropology of institutions

medical anthropology

visual anthropology


Research students


I am currently first supervisor on the following PhD projects:

Emily Stone -  Cat People: an ethnography of more-than-human interrelatedness in the cat fancy.

Robin Huson - A Conversation of Two Halves: meaning making in animal-trainer interactions.  


I co-supervise the following:

David Lindsay - Changing Tunes: the performative and affective power of music in prisons.

Alexandra Onofrei - Ro-minimal raves and ravers: techno-affectivity and identity making on the dance floor.  


I am second supervisor on the following:

Kerry Sands - Reimagining Greyhounds

Michelle Szydlowski - You're Doing it Wrong: Framing Conservation, Colonialism and Care in the Preservation of Species in Nepal


I acted as second supervsior on these completed PhD projects:

Eva Shurig - The interdependency of music choice and the social environment in headphone listening. 2019.

Katherine Marx - Performing wildness and building wilderness in the spaces of the 'other'. 2018.

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

Liz Dennis - Music, dementia and everyday life within a community day care setting. 2016.


I supervised the following MA by Research dissertation projects:

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

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


Postdoctoral supervision:

I acted as mentor on Trever Hagen's Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship Project - Hearing and Listening in Urban Spaces (HEALUS): sound, health and community.



I studied Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh and after graduating did an MA in Visual Anthropology at the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, University of Manchester. I then did an ESRC funded PhD in Social Anthropology at Goldsmith's College, University of London. My PhD project was a ‘sound ethnography’ of the auditory culture of a London hospital. During an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge I was able to write up this research as a book entitled Hearing and the Hospital: Sound, Listening, Knowledge and Experience (Sean Kingston Publishing). I joined the University of Exeter as a Lecturer in Anthropology in 2012.

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