Paul Chambers

Paul Chambers

Higher Degree by Research Candidate

School of Social Sciences

Faculty of Arts


I am a PhD Candidate and part-time Tutor in the School of Anthropology & Development Studies, University of Adelaide, supervised by Dr Dianne Rodger, and Professor Andrew Skuse. I have signalled by Intention to Submit my Doctoral Thesis, 'People, Platforms, Practice: The Social Mediation of Electronic Music Production', on May 10th 2019.

This thesis is a study of electronic music practice in the Australian city of Adelaide. Based on fieldwork conducted from July 2016 to January 2018, my work builds on scholarship that seeks to examine the impact of digital technology and the Internet on society. The central aim is to examine how those engaged in making electronic music negotiate the affordances and pitfalls of a digitally-connected world. The intention is not to make value judgements on such developments, but to chart responses to these conditions, in order that a shift towards ‘smart’ societies and inhabiting the virtual can be understood. My thesis has a dialectical structure, alternating throughout with perspectives that chart active and reactive responses to the ingression of digital technology in society. Three sections explore electronic music at the level of the subject, the object and their combination in the social, to understand how their mediation informs the modern musical assemblage.

This account transcends the boundaries between art and popular music, and the binaries of underground and mainstream; domains I see as separate but contiguous. It explores a field of musical cultures that are spatially and temporally connected, allowing for comparison and understanding of the processes and relations, discourses and ideologies behind contemporary aesthetic practice. With a focus on values and beliefs, it translates the transformative power of the musical experience, encapsulating the shifting state of being in the world today. My findings highlight the historical, emotional and affective engagement with music that reveals its importance for personal expression and real-life socialisation. The centrality of music practice to my participants acts as a primary way of processing the present, a mediation with technology and the social on multiple levels. The diversity of perspectives makes it stand out as a valuable ethnography on contemporary music and society, revealing how we are living, thinking and creating, with and through intelligent machines.

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  • Mentoring

    Date Topic Location Name
    2018 - 2018 ANTH3034 Visual Anthropology University of Adelaide Paul Chambers
    2018 - 2018 ANTH1104 Foundations of Social Anthropology: People and Culture University of Adelaide Paul Chambers

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