University of Leicester
Browse
oliver_kearns_forget_what_you_hear_accepted_manuscript_ (1).pdf (2.28 MB)

Forget what you hear: Careless Talk, espionage and ways of listening in on the British secret state

Download (2.28 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-26, 15:19 authored by Oliver Kearns
As the covert and clandestine practices of states multiplied in the twentieth century, so did these practices' footprint in public life. This footprint is not just visual and material but sonic and aural, sounding the 'secret state' into being and suggesting ways of 'listening in' on it. Using multisensory methodology, this article examines Careless Talk Costs Lives, a UK Second World War propaganda campaign instructing citizens on how to practice discreet speech and listening in defence against 'fifth columnist' spies. This campaign reproduced the British secret state in the everyday: it represented sensitive operations as weaving in and out of citizens' lives through imprudent chatter about 'hush-hush' activities and sounds you shouldn't overhear. The paradox at the campaign's heart - of revealing to people the kind of things they shouldn't say or listen to - made the secret state and its international operations a public phenomenon. Secret sounds therefore became entangled within productions of social difference, from class inequalities to German racialisation. Sound and listening, however, are unwieldy phenomena. This sonic life of the secret state risked undermining political legitimacy, while turning public space and idyllic environments into deceptive soundscapes - for international espionage, it seemed, sounded like ordinary life.

History

Author affiliation

School of History, Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester

Version

  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Review of International Studies

Volume

48

Issue

2

Pagination

301 - 325

Publisher

Cambridge University Press (CUP)

issn

0260-2105

eissn

1469-9044

Copyright date

2021

Available date

2024-03-26

Language

en

Rights Retention Statement

  • No

Usage metrics

    University of Leicester Publications

    Categories

    Exports

    RefWorks
    BibTeX
    Ref. manager
    Endnote
    DataCite
    NLM
    DC