Mehak Sawhney

Mehak Sawhney headshotEmail: mehak.sawhney [at]

Twitter: @meh_heck

Research Interests: sound, surveillance, artificial intelligence, South Asia, Global South, media studies, science and technology studies


Mehak Sawhney (she/her) is a PhD candidate and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar in Communication Studies at McGill University. Her doctoral project titled Acoustic State: Sound and Surveillance in Postcolonial India is a history of audio surveillance in India, exploring the sonic dimensions of political subjectification and territorial state control across technologies such as telephones and sonars. She also works on the intersection of sound and AI with a focus on the politics of machine listening in automated speech recognition and voice analysis.

She has co-curated Capture All: A Sonic Investigation (2020-2022), a collaborative artistic and research project between Sarai, Delhi, and Liquid Architecture, Melbourne, that explores questions of sonicity and situatedness in the Asia-Pacific region. Previously, she was a researcher at Sarai, the media research programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, where her work investigated urban sound and listening cultures. Her work has been published in Media, Culture & Society, Kalfou, Amodern, Disclaimer, and The Wire. Mehak holds an MA and MPhil in English Literature from the University of Delhi.

Select Publications:

Journal Issues, Edited

McLean, Laura, and Mehak Sawhney (Co-editors). Capture All: A Sonic Investigation, Disclaimer, co-published by Liquid Architecture and Sarai, August 2022.

Journal Articles

Sawhney, Mehak. “Infrastructure of Life: Public Address, Listening and Crowds in the Delhi Metro and Kumbh”, Media, Culture & Society, September 2021.

Sterne, Jonathan, and Mehak Sawhney. “The Acousmatic Question and the Will to Datafy:, Low-Resource Languages and the Politics of Machine Listening”, Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies, January 2023.

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