Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Digital Anthropology, Refracted Musically: Where Are We and Where to Next?

20 March 2019, 5:00 pm–8:00 pm

digital anthropology

To celebrate its tenth anniversary, the Centre for Digital Anthropology is excited to hold its first annual lecture, given by Professor Georgina Born, Oxford University.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Antonia Walford


IAS Common Ground
Ground floor, South Wing, UCL
United Kingdom

Digital anthropology has expanded hugely in the ten years since the start of UCL’s programme. Its tenth anniversary affords a good opportunity for ‘medium’ work: being in the middle of events and charting how the field has developed and how it might go forward. If UCL’s programme reinvigorates UCL Anthropology’s long-standing commitments to social anthropology and material culture studies, are there aspects of the digital condition that elude these approaches? How much should digital anthropology itself be interdisciplinary and engage, for example, with digital methods or digital culture studies? And can digital anthropology lead in appraising theoretical perspectives like ANT and the new materialisms? Some of these questions will be probed in my lecture which, taking as its ethnographic focus a group of ERC-funded studies of digital music cultures worldwide, addresses anew a series of issues: sociality, politics and ontology, materiality, time and aesthetics. Music, it will be proposed, refracts digital anthropology in ways that augur new directions for our nascent field.

Georgina Born is Professor of Music and Anthropology at Oxford University. She trained in Anthropology at UCL in the 1980s, working at the same time as a musician with Henry Cow, the Feminist Improvising Group, Derek Bailey’s Company and as a member of the London Musicians’ Collective. Her work combines ethnographic and theoretical writings on music, sound, digital media, television and public broadcasting. Her books include Rationalizing Culture: IRCAM, Boulez, and the Institutionalization of the Musical Avant-GardeInterdisciplinarity, Music, Sound and Space, and Improvisation and Social Aesthetics. A double issue of Contemporary Music Review is just out on the theme of ‘Music, Mediation Theories and Actor-Network Theory’. A 2018 article ‘From microsound to vaporwave: Internet-mediated music, online methods, and genre’ (co-authored with Christopher Haworth)) used ethnography and digital methods to analyse online music cultures. She directs the ERC-funded research program ‘Music, Digitization, Mediation: Towards Interdisciplinary Music Studies’ and has held visiting professorships at UC Berkeley, McGill, Oslo and Aarhus Universities. She chairs the Culture, Media and Performance Section of the British Academy.

Image: Patrick Valiquet. Graffiti in Montreal.