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Research in Geography and Planning

Researchers in Queen's Department of Geography and Planning have a long history of discovery and innovation that has shaped our knowledge of Earth’s places, societies, environments, and landscapes. We bridge the social sciences and humanities with the natural sciences to address some of our world's most complex problems, including issues related to social justice, climate change and planning for healthy communities.

Offering sonic and historical attention to some of the world’s diverse ecologies

Sonic Arts of Place Laboratory (SAPLab)

Research focus

The SAPLab’s sonic, spatial and temporal attention to the world’s diverse ecosystems can inform our understanding of past relations with 'nature' and may also provide critical and aesthetic tools to help us tackle today's complex environmental concerns.

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Meaning of "SAP"

  1. associated with "sapience": meaning wisdom, i.e. "the kind of sapience practiced by Homo sapiens that comes from listening"
  2. "sap" noun, slang – a naive or boldly open and unknowing person: "the kind of sapience that comes not just from listening, but from becoming unsure of what listening is."
  3. "sap" noun – the juice of the plant: "a creative and sweet fluidity with healing properties"
  4. "sap" noun – "the extension of a trench to a point beneath an adversary's fortifications"
  5. "sap" verb – to weaken or to undermine: "a creative and sweet fluidity with healing properties, accountable for its power to undermine foundations surreptitiously and steadily"


In contrast to the aural, the visual realm arguably provides poor descriptors of the local resonances and "density of interconnections" (Dunn 1999, 13) from which our rapidly changing worlds are made.

A focus on sound allows interrogation of the following key issues in current geographical research:

  1. The politics of sound and nature (what is natural? for whom?)
  2. The importance of place in the making of science
  3. The connection between fieldwork, natural science and gendered subjectivity
  4. The linkages between aurality, migratory species and geographical imagination
  5. The reconstruction of past soundscapes.

Geographers have begun to critique and address their own historic privileging of visual ways of understanding.

Dunn, David (1999) Why Do Whales and Children Sing? A Guide to Listening in Nature.  Santa Fe, New Mexico: Earth Ear.

Robinson, Dylan (2020) Hungry Listening: Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, p. 47.


Belle Park Project Blog

NiCHE Canopy Interview

In A Nature Region (2002/2011)

Into the Middle of Things (2017)

The Fireplace Series: An Interdisciplinary Conversation



Dr. Laura Jean Cameron

Queen's Department of Geography and Planning

Email: cameron@queensu.ca

Learn more about Dr. Laura Jean Cameron



Upcoming Events

Partners and Supporters

The Sonic Arts of Place Lab (SAPLab) is extremely grateful for the support that has been provided to our group over the past two decades.

SAPLab was established with thanks to the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Queen’s Faculty of Arts and Science, and the Department of Geography. Research has been generously supported by a number of sources, including the Department of Geography and Planning, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Network in Canadian History and Environment, and the Eccles Centre for American Studies (British Library).

Numerous collaborators (e.g. Sonic Arts Studio of the DAN School of Music, Queen’s Archives) and partners (e.g. The Vulnerable Media Lab and Algonquin Park Wildlife Research Station) have made our work both possible and resonant. 

SAPLab members have benefited from financial support through the Canada Research Chairs Program, SSHRC, Queen’s, the Northern Studies Training Program (NSTP), and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship.