Photo of Dr Tom Rice

Dr Tom Rice


Lecturer (Anthropology)

My research focuses on the anthropology of the senses, and particularly, 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 very 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: I recently 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 visual anthropology and ethnographic filmmaking, material culture, media anthropology, the anthropology of animals and the anthropology of institutions. I teach on a wide variety of anthropological topics and debates. In addition to two ‘Introduction to Anthropology’ modules I also teach one on contemporary ethnography called 'Ethnography Now' and one on my own research specialism entitled 'Sound and Society'. In 2013 I was part of the Exeter team which won the HEA/ASA Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Anthropology. I am currently working on a project exploring prisoner and staff experiences of prison soundscapes. 

My office hours are Thursday 2-3 and Friday 2-3.

My publications include:

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, USA.

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.