Craig Robertson

Craig Robertson. BMus, PGCE, MMus (Distinction), PhD


Telephone: 07792345314 

College: College of Social Sciences and International Studies
Discipline: Sociology and Philosophy
Department: Sociology & Philosophy
Research Centre/Unit: Sociology of the Arts (SocArts)


My background is mainly a musical one. I obtained a BMus from Mount Allison University majoring in pipe organ performance and composition in 1995. Since then I came to the U.K. to travel and never left. Over the years I performed up and down the country in countless ensembles, with styles ranging from rock and funk to experimental and electronica. In 2001 I obtained a PGCE in Secondary School Music from Middlesex University and taught music and ICT in secondary schools in East London and Essex until 2008. During this time I began to feel frustrated that government initiatives for music education revolved around developing the music industry or they were concerned with how music helped to develop non-musical skills such as co-operation, literacy, numeracy, ICT, and so on. I felt inspired to investigate how, if at all, music can be socially beneficial not only as listeners (consumers) but as practitioners. This led to enrolling on the MMus in Contemporary Music Studies from Goldsmiths College (City of London University) in 2004-2006 for which I received a Distinction. My dissertation was 'Exploring the Potential Role of Creative Collaborative Music-Making within a Post-Conflict Environment' during which I developed a synthetic theory that combined elements of cultural theory, social geography, sociology of the arts and conflict resolution theories. The research that was completed during this time enabled me to develop my own theory of how creative collaborative music-making could indeed play a significant role in developing a new shared cultural identity in post-conflict environments.

The field of Music and Conflict Transformation is a very new and small one and there has yet to be any consensus on what it is, if it works, how it works, or how it relates to actual musical projects that grapple with the topic. My thesis 'Singing to be Normal: Tracing the Behavioural Influence of Music in Conflict Transformation' I developed my theories by synthesising elements of music sociology, consumption theory, international relations, and social geography along with the empirical data I collected on two choirs, one in London and one in Sarajevo. I passed my Viva in August 2013.

I Took an interruption from the PhD in 2012 in order to participate as a unique research project at the University of York. I co-authored a proposal to the British Council to investigate the role of the arts in the Arab Spring nations with Sultan Barakat, the director of the Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Unit in the Politics Department at the University of York. This was accepted and I acted as the sole full-time research associate for the duration of the project. The research conducted in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Morocco has since fed into and bolstered my PhD research. The final published report can be viewed here.

My PhD research was short-listed for the Exeter Impact Awards in the category of Outstanding Impact in Arts and Culture in October 2013. I am currently working on a proposal for the British Academy to further my research on music and conflict transformation at the University of Leeds with Dr. David Hesmondhalgh at the Institute of Communication Studies, and Dr. Martin Iddon and Dr. Derek Scott in the Music Department.

I presented papers at the following conferences and seminars:
- May 2009 - Sociology of the Arts Seminar, University of Exeter
- Mar 2010 - Improvisation Symposium, University of Exeter
- Sep 2010 - European Sociological Association Arts Conference, University of Surrey, Guildford
- Oct 2010 - European Sociological Association Culture Conference, Bocconi University, Milan
- Apr 2011 - British Sociological Association Conference, London
- May 2011 - Music and Conflict Transformation Symposium, University of Exeter.
- Feb 2012 - Toda Institute’s Music, Liberty and Power conference, American University of Paris.
- Jun 2012 - Co-presented a report on our six month research project to the British Council at the Royal Society Building, London.
- Sep 2012 - European Sociological Association (Culture Branch) conference in Vienna.

- Jun 2013 - Protests as Events: Events as Protests, Leeds Metropolitan University

I have published an article in the peer-reviewed online journal Music and the Arts in Action entitled 'Music and Conflict Transformation in Bosnia: Constructing and Reconstructing the Normal' which is available here.. I am in the process of submitted two further articles to established academic journals, including one currently under review for Poetics. I am currently the co-editor and co-author of an upcoming book with Olivier Urbain based on the presentations at the Toda Institute conference in Paris which should be published within a year. I have also written a chapter for an upcoming book based on the Protest as Events conference that should be published in July 2014.