Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Michigan

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Stanford University
Sound and Noise in the City: Public Sensibilities and Technocratic Translation in Taipei's Aural Cityscape

For the last 30 years, the Taiwan Environmental Protection Agency has implemented noise control standards in efforts to reduce the noise level on the island. While their efforts have succeeded in lowering the decibel levels around the island, citizens perceive Taiwan as noisier than ever. This paradox illustrates that sound in the form of noise is a contentious topic and reflects political claims about one's self-identification as a modern, Taiwanese subject. I focus on the problem of noise in Taipei as a uniquely urban discourse within Taipei's transition from an industrial city to a cosmopolitan, internationally-renowned urban space. Through city-wide efforts in urban redevelopment and the influx of new migrants from rural Taiwan and Southeast Asia, Taipei is becoming an even more densely-populated, diverse space for a number of urban subjects. I argue that the governance of noise creates a new paradigm in the delineation of urban space that restructures the urban experience through ways of hearing. By situating an ethnographic project within both governmental agencies and specific communities in Taipei, I draw attention to the imbricate nature between the technocratic system that produces a set of noise control standards and the everyday practices of individuals who either react, circumvent, perpetuate, or manipulate such standards toward their own diverse set of interests.