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University of Basel

Bucerius Dissertation Completion Scholarship

Drones, Sirens, and Prayer Calls: Unheard Consequences of a Politics of Sound


How do keynote sounds structure citizens’ relationships to their state? How do states regulate public soundscapes to effect control? Sound constitutes a critical part of our sensory map of the world, yet it is rarely conceptualized as explicitly political. This apolitical formulation leaves us without an understanding of sound’s relationship to political power. Michelle Weitzel´s research develops a theory of sound-power via an empirical, inductive, and comparative approach across two critical cases:  Algeria-France and Palestine-Israel. These cases demonstrate the body’s conscription into state projects, showcasing the material and affective registers that undergird public opinion and behavior in contentious politics and revealing, in the process, a way of understanding domination and resistance that has important implications for understanding governance in liberal democracies.

Michelle Weitzel is the Sinergia Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Critical Urbanisms at the University of Basel. Her research brings topics in conflict, security, political violence, and governance into conversation with the sensory and material world. Her papers have been accorded the Wilson Award and the Hayward R. Alker Award at the American Political Science Association. Michelle received her Ph.D. in Politics at the New School for Social Research in New York, where she trained in comparative politics and international relations, specializing in the political systems of the Middle East and North Africa. She received an ALM in Government from Harvard University, and a BS in Journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern University. Her research has been supported by the American Institute of Maghrib Studies, the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius, the Palestinian American Research Center, and the Graduate Institute for Design, Research and Ethnography.

Michelle D. Weitzel, "Engineering Affect: Street Politics and Microfoundations of Governance," Middle East Law & Governance 11, no. 2 (2019): 203-243

Michelle D. Weitzel, "Audializing Migrant Bodies: Sound and Security at the Border,” Security Dialogue 49, no. 6 (2018): 421-437.


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