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May 2019 SEM Student of the Month - Robbie Campbell

Thursday, May 16, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephanie Sturgis
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Robbie Campbell
SOAS, University of London

Concentration of Study: Chopi Timbila Xylophone Music in Mozambique, Dyslexia Studies, Disability Studies, Audiovisual Ethnomusicology, Learning, Multimodal and Nonlinear Forms of Knowledge Production

Expected Graduation Date: April 2020

Biography: Robbie is a PhD student at SOAS, University of London. Following many years working in the television industry as a location sound recordist, he received a diagnosis of dyslexia in 2010 and returned somewhat trepidatiously to education. Despite no undergraduate degree Robbie completed a masters programme and then went on to win a SOAS scholarship to conduct doctoral research.

The research itself focuses on the relationships between dyslexia and Chopi timbila xylophone music in Mozambique. While dyslexia is conventionally seen through the lens of literacy impairment, a challenging new paradigm presents dyslexia studies as entirely context-dependent and interrelational. Robbie’s work consequently explores ecosystems of knowledge production and both normative and non-normative ways of interacting with and experiencing information. The research shows Chopi timbila music to be in constant interplay with these themes.

His thesis, told through five different interlocking versions of the same argument, will be presented through an open-access website that allows visitors a nonlinear and multimodal navigation experience. This form of associative narrative construction based on perspective multiplicity is designed to both highlight and reduce hierarchies within knowledge building. It also acts as a model for dyslexic cognition, with the same themes within the research built into the architecture of the thesis itself.

As Robbie’s work is fundamentally transdisciplinary he presents within ethnomusicology, education, music psychology, ethnographic filmmaking, and neurodiverse circles, with two audiovisual immersive installation films supporting how the research is communicated. Robbie also assists undergraduate, postgraduate and neurodiverse students with learning and has a long-term Buddhist meditation practice. 


  • Campbell, R. (2012). ‘Musicking with Joy of Sound’. PMLD Link. Vol. 24(1). Issue 71. 18-21.
  •  Campbell, R. (Forthcoming 2020). ‘Towards an Experiential Ethnomusicology of Dyslexia: a      case study of Chopi timbila xylophone music in Mozambique’. Open Access Web-Thesis.
  • Campbell, R. (Forthcoming 2020). ‘Estevão: A Sensory Ethnomusicology of Learning’. Installation Film Cycle. 71 mins.
  • Campbell, R. (Forthcoming 2020). ‘Timbila ta Muane’. Multi-Screen Installation Film. 60 mins.


Nominee - SOAS School Prize, 2013

Recipient - SOAS PhD Scholarship, 2014

Recipient – SOAS Mobility Award, 2015

Recipient – BFE Fieldwork Grant, 2018 (declined due to interrupted study)

Recipient – SEM Student of the Month Award, May 2019


Complete list of Ethnomusicology Students of the Month

Ethnomusicology Student of the Month Nomination Form

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