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Sarah Plovnick

I use ethnographic methods to study the role of audio communication in contentious political environments. My dissertation, entitled “Sounding Through the Firewall: A Narrative of Audio Communication Between Taiwan and China,” examines the recent history of the Taiwan Strait (1949-today) from the perspective of music and sound.

Originally from the Boston area, I completed a B.A. in Music and Comparative Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to my doctoral studies, I spent a year in the Dominican Republic, during which I studied the intersection of jazz with Afro-Dominican musics and taught youth music at the DREAM Project. I completed my M.A. in ethnomusicology at UC Berkeley in 2019, with a focus on Puerto Rican music in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes. I am a co-founder of the Berkeley Computational Music Research working group. I also perform regularly on the French horn with a focus on jazz and other improvised musics.

My research has been supported by Fulbright-Hays DDRA, the Taiwan Ministry of Education, the Taiwan Center for Chinese Studies, the UC Berkeley Center for Chinese Studies, UC Berkeley Global International and Area Studies, the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the US Dept. of Education’s Foreign Language and Area Studies program (FLAS), and Fulbright-mtvU.

Research Interests: Sound and voice studies, Taiwan and China policy, social media surveillance and censorship, history and development of artificial intelligence, postcolonial studies, Taiwanese popular musics