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Dr Tom Rice

Senior Lecturer (Anthropology)

Amory B306

My research focuses on the anthropology of sound and auditory culture. I have conducted research on sound in a number of contexts, but especially within institutions, including hospitals, prisons and most recently, zoos.

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 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 are woven into patients' experiences of hospitalisation. My book on this research is entitled Hearing and the Hospital: Sound, Listening, Knowledge and Experience ( I have also written on prison sound (, and am currently PI on the ESRC Transforming Social Science grant 'Listening to the Zoo'.

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: 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: I recently made an audio piece which is an experimental listening tour of an imaginary zoo. You can access this here:

My other interests include bioacoustics (on which I have taught for Exeter's MA programnme in Anthrozoology or human-animal interactions), ethnographic filmmaking, the anthropology of institutions, the anthropology of the senses and medical anthropology.

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

In press: 

Rice, T., A. Badman-King, A. Reed, S. Hurn and P. Rose. 'Listening After the Animals: sound and pastoral care in the zoo'. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (accepted September 2020).


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.

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. Griffero (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 M. 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. '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. 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


the anthropology of institutions

medical anthropology

visual anthropology


Research students

Current PhD students:

Robin Huson - A Conversation of Two Halves: meaning making in animal-trainer interactions (first supervisor)

Alexandra Onofrei - Ro-minimal raves and ravers: techno-affectivity and identity making on the dance floor (first supervisor)

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

Eduardo Fabian Garza Garza - The Fungi that Could: an ethnographic approach to the agency of Fungi

Kerry Sands - Reimagining Greyhounds (second supervisor)

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

Jess Hooper - Civets in Society: Understanding the human-animal interactions within civet trades (second supervisor)


Completed PhD students:

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 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).


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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