Author Archives: Jennifer Hsieh

Jennifer Hsieh is a Hou Family Fellow at the Fairbank Center at Harvard University. She conducts research on governance and the senses.
The image is of a red sound wave, with the words "a recording of what some U.S Embassy workers heard in Havana" in red text below it. The image was created by AP press when it released the sound.

Hearing the Unknown: Case Studies in Cuba and Taiwan

The saga of mysterious sounds afflicting US diplomats in Cuba—and more recently China–has appeared in the US news cycle intermittently over the last couple of years. Since 2017, news organizations have reported that officials working at the US Embassy in Havana were experiencing hearing loss, dizziness, and possibly brain injury as a result of exposure to high-pitched, grating sounds. The State Department described the phenomenon as a sonic attack, believing that officials were purposefully targeted by an “acoustic element.” Cuban officials have denied the allegations by citing the failure of US officials to identify the source of the sound. Other details surrounding the incident have added to the mystery, including the fact that not all individuals who exhibited symptoms reportedly heard the sound, and those who did may not have been hearing the same sound. (read more...)