SoundTrak: Sounds of War - The Memory of World War II in Taiwan, East Germany, and Denmark, 1945-2015

Analysing 70 years of post-war culture from the vantage point of sound

Music, songs, speeches, noises - in principle, any sound remembered or imagined, any sound captured or produced by sound technologies can become a popular sonic site of memory. In practice, however, only a few select sounds become true signature sonic events. 

The immediate, visceral impact of sounds as sites of memory results from the special function of sonic information in our lives. Our sense of hearing develops ontogenetically before our other senses and is faster, more efficient, and more precise than our sense of sight. Therefore, hearing serves as our primary physiological warning system with corresponding emotional import. Nevertheless, research about the history of sound and more specifically about collective memory and sound has only just begun. 

SoundTrak is part of the new aural turn in memory studies and advances the state of the art in three important respects by, for the first time, (1) systematically comparing European and Asian aural memory cultures; (2) focusing specifically on the memory challenges and accomplishments of relatively small states; and (3) tracking and comparing the transnational development of communist and capitalist aural memoryscapes. 

For that purpose, SoundTrak explores soundscapes in the three Cold War battlegrounds of Taiwan, East Germany, and Denmark, comparable in size and strategic setting, through a topic fundamentally related to questions of national identity: the memory of WWII warfare, occupation, and liberation. 

Project outcomes and research dissemination

In terms of academic output SoundTrak will produce two PhD theses, one edited volume, and a number of peer reviewed articles and will also host three workshops with external guests to discuss results. The project uses three additional channels of research dissemination: podcasts, an online data-platform, and radio programs.


The project is one of transnational collaboration and brings together two junior Danish scholars with a junior Taiwanese, a senior German, and a senior German-American scholar working on the project:

  • Ai Chung, PhD Fellow, Department of Global Studies: China Studies, Aarhus University
  • Andreas Steen, Associate Professor, Department of Global Studies: China Studies, Aarhus University
  • Jacco Visser, Project Coordinator, Department of English, Aarhus University
  • Mikkel Weel Krammer-Ha├čler, PhD Fellow, Department of History and Classical Studies: History, Aarhus University
  • Sigrid Nielsen Saabye, Postdoc, Department of History and Classical Studies: History, Aarhus University
  • Wulf Kansteiner, Professor with special responsibilities, Department of History and Classical Studies: History, Aarhus University


The SoundTrak project is funded by The Velux Foundation.