Winnie W. C. Lai (she/her/hers) is a PhD candidate in Music, (ethno)musicology, a Benjamin Franklin Fellow (2018-2023), and a Tarnopol Graduate Fellow (2020-2021) at the University of Pennsylvania, currently based in Philadelphia, U.S.A. and Hong Kong. Her works mainly focus on but are not limited to sonic activism, urban sound, the theoretical juncture of the sonic, listening, space, and bodies, sound studies, performance studies, political theories, and matters of Hong Kong. Winnie experiments with inter-medial methods and field materials to craft out spaces for sensory experience. She is currently working on her dissertation entitled "Sounding Freedom: Political Aurality and Sound Acts in Hong Kong (Post-)Protest Spaces" under the supervision of Professor Jairo Moreno.


Before joining Penn Music, Winnie worked as a Teaching Assistant (School of Humanities, Music) from Fall 2014 to Spring 2018 at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). She completed a Master of Philosophy degree in musicology with a thesis entitled “Sound and Nonviolence: Music as Political Action in Hong Kong” in 2017. In recognition of her studies and research, HKU awarded Winnie the Rayson Huang Scholarship in Music twice in 2012 (undergraduate) and 2017 (postgraduate), respectively.


As a global citizen and a young intellect in sonic contestation, Winnie always maintains one belief: music and musicology come with a social obligation. This belief motivated her to pursue doctoral studies and an academic career in music/sound studies. Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement in 2014 was a turning point in Winnie’s life. As this event unfolded, Winnie transformed from a fledgling singer-songwriter (who won The Best Music Video Award from Sony Music Entertainment (Hong Kong) in December 2013) into a junior (ethno)musicologist working on sonic contestation. This metamorphosis reflects and builds upon Winnie’s academic mission and personal belief—that is, to be a candid and socially responsible sound scholar.

黎氏現時為賓夕法尼亞大學哲學博士候選人、班傑明·富蘭克林學人(2018-2023) 及 塔爾諾波爾學人(2020-2021),主修音樂學,現居於美國費城及香港。研究方向圍繞聲音及音樂研究、聲音與環境空間、社運和抗議聲音及音樂、表演或呈現研究、香港抗爭及文化、公共音樂學、以及 有關聲音和音樂、聆聽、環境空間、人類行為及舉動、和人體及思考在哲學理論中的關係。黎氏亦熱衷以聲音藝術及影像,展示其創新前衛思維及呈現特定聲音空間實況。黎氏師承海羅.莫蘭盧教授,她正完成其博士論文題目「自由的聲音:香港(後)抗爭空間的政治聆聽和聲音行動」。


黎氏於2014至2018年獲香港大學(人文學院, 音樂系)聘任為教學助理,並於2017年修畢哲學碩士(音樂學),研究題目為「聲音與非暴力:香港社運的音樂為政治行為」。黎氏於2012年及2017年分別獲香港大學頒發黃麗松獎學金,以表揚其傑出成績。






Dissertation Project


"Sounding Freedom: Political Aurality and Sound Acts in Hong Kong (Post-)Protest Spaces."



"'Happy Birthday to You': Music as Nonviolent Weapon in the Umbrella Movement." Hong Kong Studies 1, no. 1 (March, 2018): 66-82.

*The article was shortlisted as one of the eight finalist works for the IBP Best Article on Global Hong Kong Studies in Humanities 2021.



Academic Presentations


“Making Sense of the ‘Nonsense’: Localisation of ‘Happy Birthday to You’ in the Umbrella Movement.” Joint Forum and East Asian Research Seminar for Graduate Students in Musicology on Music and Mobility, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, May 5-7, 2016. (Keynotes: Kay Kaufman Shelemay, Joseph Lam)


“Sound Acts and Sonic Subversion: Interaction Between Functional Urban Sounds and Populations.” Sound in Motion 2019, University of Bern, Switzerland, September 20-21, 2019. (Keynotes: Michael Bull, Andrew J. Eisenberg, Jason Stanyek)

"Sonic Activism Against the Tear Gas: Hongkonger’s Raging Roars and Sound Acts." 

"Hong Kong’s Annual June 4th Vigil: Relics of the Tiananmen Protests." Legacies of Tiananmen. China, Hong Kong, Taiwan 天安門事件的歷史遺緒. 中國,香港,台灣, CEFC Taipei, Taiwan, June 3, 2020. Webinar.

“'I Heard You Through the Tear Gas!': Sound Acts in the 2019–20 Hong Kong Protests."

"Acoustic Protest in Malls: Echoing Hong Kong’s New Economic Relations to Politics and Values."

  • Hong Kong Studies Annual Conference. 2020 Hong Kong Studies Research School, Virtual/The Education University of Hong Kong, December 10, 2020.

  • Hong Kong in the Age of Global Crisis, Society of Hong Kong Studies Annual Conference 2021, Virtual/Hong Kong, June 25-26, 2021.

  • International Musicological Society East Asia Regional Association (IMSEA), Virtual Conference for Graduate Students and Early Career Scholars 2021, October 23-24, 2021.

"Sonic Global Upheaval: The Atmospheric Sound Acts Against Authoritarianism." Echoes of a Distance: Music, Protest and Community in Confined Times, The International Institute of Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI), McGill University, Montreal, Canada, November 19-20. Virtual.



Multimodal/Intermedial Projects


Roar with Rage: Sounding Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition Protests. SEM Ethnographic Documentary Pre-conference Workshop “Film as Ethnography, Activism, and Public Work in Ethnomusicology,” November 6, 2019, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

Stand With Hong Kong: Sounding Pain and Roar Through the Lennon Walls, Sound Art Installation

  • Sound Studies SIG, SEM, at the Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting, November 7-10, 2019, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, U.S.A.

  • Experiments in Audio Ethnography for Graduate Seminar "Audio Ethnography" (Public Section), Center for Experimental Ethnography in the University of Pennsylvania, December 8, 2019, The Mosaic Hall at Penn Museum, Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.

  • Sounding Spaces, 7th Biennial Yale Graduate Music Symposium, Yale University, New Haven, CT, U.S.A., February 28-29, 2020.

Stand With Hong Kong: (Un)Sounding Pain and Roar Through the Lennon Walls, Censored and Virtual Version of a Sound Installation and Virtual Tour

  • Screening Scholarship Media Festival (SSMF) 2021, CAMRA (Collective for Advancing Multimodal Research Arts), April 16-18, 2021, University of Pennsylvania, PA, USA.

XXXX XXXXEthnographic Film, The Society for Ethnomusicology, 66th Annual Meeting, Virtual, October 28, 2021.


Published on: 1 June 2019

Last update: 23 November 2021