Max Ritts is a Research Associate on the Smart Forests project in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. He is an environmental geographer, having completed his PhD at the Department of Geography, University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2018. His work operates at the intersection of political ecology, sound studies, and critical Indigenous studies.
His current book project, A Resonant Ecology (under contract with Duke University Press), argues that acts of listening, recording, processing, and composition are providing a basis for various social efforts to come to terms with dramatically disturbed ecosystems. Based on twenty months’ ethnography in the industrializing North Coast (British Columbia, Canada), the project considers whale song, anthropogenic noise, fading pastoral soundscapes, machine listening tools, and Indigenous black metal as eco-sonic forms with the capacity to generate novel insights into the politics of nature. Current research interests include the relation of bioacoustics to corporate audio-surveillance practices and the elaboration of “smart” marine governance schemes, which are topics that intersect with the Smart Forests investigation of smart environments and governance.
Max undertakes practice-based research especially through using audio and digital methods. His website, www.sonicgeographies.info, documents inventive practice-based pedagogies in academic and fieldwork settings. He is also co-founder of the RAVEN/Harmony Young Scholars Essay Prize, which seeks to support undergraduate academic work that advances the interests, struggles, and worldviews of First Nations peoples (primarily in the Canadian context).
Ritts, M. and Bakker, K. (2021). “Conservation acoustics: Animal sounds, audible natures, cheap nature.” Geoforum, 124, pp. 144-155
Ritts, M. (2021). “Saturation as a Logic of Enclosure.” In Saturation: An Elemental Politics, Melody Jue and Rafico Ruiz (Eds.). Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 144-160.
Ritts, M. and Bakker, K. (2019). “New Forms: Anthropocene Festivals and Experimental Environmental Governance.” Environment and Planning E, online first.
Ritts, M. (2019). “Anthropocene River” [contributor to art collaboration]. Anthropocene Curriculum. Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW, Berlin) and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG, Berlin).
Ritts, M., Gage, S., Picard, C., Dundas, E., and Dundas, S. (2016). “Application of Citizen Science to Establish Baseline Acoustical Conditions in Gitga’at Territory, British Columbia, Canada.” Global Ecology and Conservation 7: 25-38.