Skip to main content
Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Olya Zikrata, Humanities

The Sonic Operative: Sound, Activism, and the Politics of Response to Post-Soviet Crises

Date & time
Friday, November 25, 2022
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Daniela Ferrer


Henry F. Hall Building
1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.
Room 1120

Wheel chair accessible


When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


The sonic operative is a propositional formulation of what the dissertation outlines as a situated, implicated, and contextually grounded work of sound by which to craft activist response. I come up with this formulation to think with possibilities emerging in practices invested in a sonic format of justice seeking action. Using the post-Soviet contexts of dictatorship, imperialism, colonialism, capitalism, and ecocide, I examine the ways in which labours of change extend to a field of sonically working efforts. Specifically, I study sites of activist involvement through which sounded actions perform the force of revolt against what is broadly defined as the Russian regime in its predatory formations and ecologies of harm.

The argument is laid out through a set of four operational modalities differentiated as the offender, the carer, the magician, and the prophet to approach sounds in their ways of performing political participation. I gather evidence from a range of case studies that share an activist stance and space of ethics, and that reveal an existing arena of insurrectionary activity. Each case gives expression to the experience of crises directly linked to Russia's authoritarian, imperial, and capitalist politics and to the potency of the contingent moment of sounded resistances committed to causes and consequences of these politics. Spanning the spaces of activist presence across Russia, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine, the dissertation makes a claim to an ecology of sonic deeds, a politics of participation by which to collaborate and craft a form of caring relation.

Back to top

© Concordia University