Skip to Content

Improvisation and Social Aesthetics Coordinator, Co-investigator

University of Oxford

Professor Born's research expertise includes sociology and anthropology of modern societies, music/musicology, communication and media studies, interdisciplinary knowledge production, and multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary arts. In addition to being an ethnographer of cultural institutions (with ethnographies of IRCAM and the BBC), she has written extensively on the ethnography and sociology of avant-garde and popular music, music and identity, and the cultural politics of music. As a musician she has performed with Derek Bailey's Company, the Feminist Improvising Group, Henry Cow, and others, as well as working in avant-garde rock, jazz, and experimental music. Born's research concerns the articulation of the social and the aesthetic in relation to music, television, and new media; these studies have led to policy contributions and consultancy work with government and industry. Her writings have pursued two complementary projects: Her analysis of how social, cultural, economic, and political forces condition the aesthetic draws on perspectives from sociology, anthropology, musicology, and the arts. In addition, she has been involved in advancing theories that the social forces that characterize all expressive practices are inherent to the aesthetic experiences that they afford. This in turn forms part of a larger research project, "A Theory of Cultural Production," which draws on her ethnographic studies. She holds an honours BA and PhD in anthropology from University College London.

Improvisation implies a deep connection between the personal and the communal, self and world. A “good” improviser successfully navigates musical and institutional boundaries and the desire for self-expression, pleasing not only herself but the listener as well.

– Rob Wallace