Julian Henriques

Principal Investigator, Sonic Street Technologies


Professor Julian Henriques is convenor of the MA Cultural Studies programme, director of the Topology Research Unit and co-founder of Sound System Outernational research group in the Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London. Previously Julian was head of film and television at CARIMAC at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. Julian researches street cultures, music and technologies including those of the reggae sound system. He has credits as a writer-director with the feature film Babymother, a reggae musical, the improvised short drama We the Ragamuffin and as a producer with numerous BBC and Channel Four documentaries; a sound artist with the sculpture Knots & Donuts at the Tate Modern, a founding editor with the Ideology & Consciousness journal and as an author with others Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation and Subjectivity and the monographs Sonic Bodies: Reggae Sound Systems Performance Techniques and Ways of Knowing, and Sonic Media: the Street Technology of the Jamaican Sound System (forthcoming).




My cultural studies approach encourages the selection of the starting point of a research project to be a particular instance, example or phenomenon. For me this specific particular has for many years has been the Jamaican reggae sound system. This started with a love for the music and a passion that inspired several of my filmmaking projects. My grounding in the specific technologies and sound system scenes in the UK and Jamaica has proved to be an excellent base from which to explore a range of wider issues. Learning from Jamaican audio engineers, these interests include the nature of non-epistemic knowledge systems. Specifically, these are skilled techniques, expertise and connoisseurship with which the engineers fine-tune the sound system to maximise the intensity of the auditory experience of their audience.

Trying to understand how the engineers achieve these effects and affects led me to affect theory and rhythmanalysis and to explore expressive, performative and non-representational theories of meaning and communication. The idea of a sonic logos, rather than the logos of the word, emerged as a way to describe the kinds of meaning that are relational, proportional and analogue. Topology and diagrammatics have proved fruitful in this respect. In addition, I am also very interested in very different intensive auditory environments, specifically that of the womb for the unborn child. This has proved fruitful to explore the nature of auditory relationships and identities of a similar character to those of the sound system session, but constituted even before we are born.




——. Sonic Media: The Jamaican Sound System and the System of Sound (forthcoming 2021 Duke University Press)

——. Sonic Bodies: Reggae Sound Systems, Performance Techniques and Ways of Knowing, London: Continuum, 2011.

——. with J, Hollway, W, Urwin, C, Venn, C and Walkerdine, V (1984, 1998) Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation and Subjectivity, London Routledge.


——. Engines of Affect: Experimenting with Auditory Intensities in the Jamaican Sound System Session. In Affective experimentation – methodologies of world-making. (Eds.) Britta Timm Knudsen, Mads Krogh and Carsten Stage. London: Palgrave Macmillan (forthcoming).

——. with Eric Jauniaux, Aude Thibaut de Maisieres and Pierre Gélat. Sound Before Birth: Fetal hearing and the auditory environment of the womb. In, Aural Diversity. (Eds) John Drever and Andrew Hugill. London: Routledge (forthcoming)

——. A Caribbean Taste of Technology: Creolization and the Ways of Making of the Dancehall Sound System. In Dancehall: A Reader on Jamaican Music and Culture. Ed. Sonjah Stanely-Niaah. Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, 2020, pp 263 – 276. Available at https://technosphere-magazine.hkw.de/p/A-Caribbean-Taste-of-Technology-Creolization-and-the-Ways-of-Making-of-the-Dancehall-Sound-System-45C2uWd9N3ion4Dk92zo3c

——. with Xiang, Zairong. Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Cosmopolitricks. In minor cosmopolitan: Thinking Art, Politics, and the Universe Together Otherwise. Zairong Xiang (ed.). Diaphanes, 2020: 250 – 260

——. Rhythm, Rhythmanalysis and Algorithm-Analysis: In On Rhythm: Technics, Culture, Capital. Eds. Paola Crespi and Sunil Manghani. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press: 2019.

——. Duppy Conquerors, Rolling Calves and Flights to Zion. In Unsound/Undead. (Eds.) Steve Goodman, Toby Heys and Eleni Ikoniadou. Minneapolis: Univocal, 2018: 147 – 150.

——. Digital Immortality. In Unsound/Undead. (Eds.) Steve Goodman, Toby Heys and Eleni Ikoniadou. Minneapolis: Univocal, 2018: 2019: 161 – 164.

——. with David Morley (eds.) Stuart Hall: Conversations, Projects and Legacies. London: Goldsmiths Press/ MIT, 2018

——. with Hillegonda, Rietveld, Echo, in Sound Handbook, ed. Michael Bull, London: Routledge, 2018

——. “Afrofuturism, Technology and Fiction: A Conversation between JH and Harold Offeh.” In O’Sullivan, Simon, Hameed, Ayesha and Gunkel, Henriette. Eds. Futures and Fictions. London: Repeater Books. 2017: 97 – 121.

——. Fine-tuning the Apparatus of the Dancehall Sound System ‘Set.’ In Auditory Culture Reader, 2nd Edition (Eds.) Michael Bull and Les Back. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015: 349 – 356.

——. and Ferrara, Beatrice (2014) “The Sounding of the Notting Hill Carnival: Music as Space, Place and Territory.” in Stratton, Jon and Zuberi, Nabeel (eds.) (2014) Black Popular Music in Britain Since 1945, London: Routledge, pp 131 – 152.

——. “Musicking” entry in Lesko Nancy & Talburt, Susan (Eds).. Keywords in Youth Studies: Tracing Affects, Movements, Knowledges, New York: RoutledgeFalmer, 2011: 218 – 222.

——. Creative and Knowledge Economies on the Reggae Dancehall Scene in Sonic Synergies: Music, Identity, Technology and Community, (eds.) Bloustein, Gerry, Peters, Margaret and Luckman, Susan, London: Ashgate (2007)

——. Sonic Dominance and the Reggae Sound System, in Auditory Culture Reader, 1st Edition. eds. Bull, Michael and Back, Les, Oxford: Berg, 2003: 451- 480


——. with Gelat, Pierre, David, Anna L, Haqgenas, Seyyed, Reza, Thibault de Maisieres, Aude, White, Tony and Jauniaux, Eric. Evaluation of fetal exposure to external loud noise using a sheep model. American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 342, October 2019.

——. with D’Aquino, Brian and Vidigal, Leonardo (2017) A Popular Culture Research Methodology: Sound System Outernational
Volume! 13 : 2 | 2017 : Inna Jamaican Stylee. p. 163-175, available from

——. “Rhythmic Bodies: Amplification, Inflection and Transduction in the Dance Performance Techniques of the “Bashment Gal”” Body & Society, September & December 2014

——. “Hearing Things and Dancing Numbers: Embodying Transformation, Topology at Tate Modern.” Theory, Culture & Society, Topology Special, 29 (4/5) 2012: 334 – 342.

——. with Tiainen, Milla and Väliaho, Pasi “Rhythm Returns: Movement and
Cultural Theory” Body & Society, September & December 2014

——. The Vibrations of Affect and their Propagation on a Night Out on Kingston’s Dancehall Scene, Body & Society, 2010, vol 16, no 1, pp 57 – 89.

——. Auditory and Technological Culture: The Fine-tuning of the Dancehall Sound System “Set” Journal of Sonic Studies, no 2 (2012)


● Construction Dub, played on Green Light sound system, International Dub Gathering, Alicante, Spain 18th April 2019
● Bread Dub & Wine, 4 sound channels, Liminaria sound art residency, Guardia Sanframondi, 2018
● Captain Eko and her Sonic Warriors, 12.2 sound channels, 6 screens, Resolution, Goldsmiths, 2017
● Knots & Donuts, 12 sound channels, Topology Series, Tate Modern, 2011


● Babymother, Writer/Director, Formation Films for Film Four (1998)


● We the Ragamuffin (30 min.) Co-Writer/Director, Rockstead Productions for Channel Four Television (1992)
● Exit No Exit (30 min.) Co-Originator/Director, Formation Films for Channel Four Television (1988)


● Denzil’s Dance (25 min) Producer/Director, Arts Council/ 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning (2019)
● Derek Walcott: Poet of the Island (60 min.) Producer/Director, Arena, BBC Music & Arts, 1993
● The Green Man (60 min.) Producer/Director, Omnibus, BBC Music & Arts (1990)
● States of Exile and Dictating Terms (50 min. each) Producer/Director, Made in Latin America, BBC Music & Arts (1988).