Sounding Out the Tourist City is a three-year research project that seeks to explore the impact of tourism on everyday urban public ambiances, with a particular focus on the sonic ambiance. The meteoric rise of Lisbon as a  major tourist destination will provide the backdrop for the different cases studies that make up the project.

The project brings together an interdisciplinary group of researchers affiliated to the NOVA University,  University of Lisbon, University Institute of Lisbon, Universidad de Valladolid and Queens University Belfast.

Sounding Out the Tourist City is funded by the Portuguese Research Council (FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia) through a SR&TD Project Grant (PTDC/ART-PER/32417/2017).


Sounds of Tourism takes the touristification of historic Lisbon neighborhoods both as a research object and as an analytical lens for investigating the role of sound in the cultural and sensory restructuring of touristified urban spaces in the post-industrial city. The recent promotion of Lisbon as a major tourist destination and the impact of tourism and associated phenomena on the social fabric of its historic center has turned the Portuguese capital city into a timely case study for this project.

Our approach to the topic draws from an interdisciplinary interpretive framework built around the notions of sound environment, urban ambiance and sustainability. The core of this research consists on a sensory ethnography of the urban fabric, including field research, the recording of soundscapes and interviewing local residents, visitors, policy makers and other stakeholders involved in the development of Lisbon as a tourist city.

To understand the relationship between tourism and the urban acoustic space the project will consider two levels of analysis: 1) Urban policy and city planning, and 2) the everyday urban experience of city dwellers and visitors. It is precisely in the interplay between the urban space as it is conceived by city planners and urban designers and the sensory engagement of city dwellers with the built environment that urban ambiances emerge.


The project team includes researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds (ethnomusicology, anthropology, geography, history, sociology and sound studies) with a rich research experience connected to the project´s theme as well as solid theoretical and methodological backgrounds. The research team is coordinated by Dr. Iñigo Sánchez Fuarros.

Each team member will engage in particular case studies related to their research experience and interests. The city of Lisbon and the over-turistification of its historic centre will provide the backdrop for the analysis

The research team is formed by Iñigo Sánchez Fuarros (PI, FCSH/NOVA), Salwa El Shawan Castelo-Branco (Co-PI, FCSH/NOVA), Daniel Malet Calvo (CIES-IUL), Livia Jiménez (UNED), Gonçalo Antunes de Oliveira (FCSH/NOVA), Daniel Paiva (CEG-UL), Rui Cidra (FCHS/NOVA), Jorge Sequera (Universidad de Valladolid), Pedro Rebelo (Queen’s University Belfast), Matilde Meireles (Queen’s University Belfast) and Jordi Nofre (FCHS/NOVA).

case studies

What sounds define the city of Lisbon? How sound participates in creating particular urban ambiances and places for tourist consumption? How tourism and city development affect sound in the urban context? What is the role of sound and music in relation to the physical regeneration and marketing of contemporary touristic places?

These are the kind of question that are at the core of the Sounding Out the Tourist City project. We will try to find answers to such questions through a series of ethnographic case studies that will explore Lisbon’s most contested tourist hotspots and sounded practices.


The project is expected to produce a number of outputs during the term of its development, including:

    • Scientific publications (articles, book chapters, research reports, etc.) in national and international peer-reviewed outlets.

    • Advanced training. We expect the completion of a PhD dissertation and a master dissertation over the course of the project.

    • Conference organization.  We will organize several project seminars during the course of the research project and a closing international colloquium. We will also host a worshop involving research team members, sound artists, arquitects, urban planners and other stakeholders to think about the future of sustainable sound environments in touristified urban spaces.

    The research team is committed to transfering the results of the research project to the general public. Thus, we strive to have an impact on the local communities and institutions which we are working with, by producing several outputs  that aim at incorporating these actors into the debates and discussions the project promotes (training activities, artistic interventions, community projects, etc.)