Centre for Creative Industries, Media and Screen Studies

Dr Caspar Melville

Key information

Centre for Creative Industries, Media and Screen Studies Chair, Senior Lecturer in Global Creative and Cultural Industries Centre of African Studies Member
PhD (London), SFHEA
Russell Square: College Buildings
Email address
Telephone number
+44 (0)20 7898 4249
Support hours
Wednesdays, 11:00am–1:00pm


I was born and raised in London, and started my career as a music journalist, writing for the independent black music press – Blues & Soul, Touch, Urb and Jazzid – and freelancing for other publications such as The Village Voice and The Sunday Telegraph.

I spent eight years living in San Francisco in the 1990s, during which time I worked as a columnist, DJ, radio presenter and club promoter, and helped start a short-lived jazz magazine, On The One. Back in London I worked as Media Editor and then Executive Editor at the online journal openDemocracy for five years. Before joining SOAS, in September 2013, I worked for eight years for the charity the Rationalist Association, where I was  the editor of New Humanist magazine and the charity’s chief executive. My first book Taking Offence (Seagull books/Index on Censorship) was published in 2009.

I have a BA in American Studies (Literature) from Sussex University and an MA and PhD in Media and Communications from Goldsmiths College, University of London. My thesis – London Underground The Multicultural Routes of London’s Dance Music Cultures – explored issues of race, space identity and belonging in the interracial clubs of London, 1965-1998.

Listen to Caspar discussing his research on SOAS Radio.

Research interests

My main research interests include

  • Afro-diasporic popular music: The production, consumption and circulation of “black” music (music of African origin), generic change, music in everyday life, dance and antiphony, The Black Atlantic, circum-Atlantic creative practice
  • The history and cartography of genre: jazz, hip hop, Jungle, Grime
  • The distinct artistic practices of the city, London in particular
  • Ideologies of race and identity
  • The history and future of cultural studies and critical theory
  • Post-digital media - in particular issues of ownership, work and ideologies of utopia

A secondary area of interest involves the philosophical utility of reason, the scientific method, contemporary religion and non-religion, and free speech and offence. I recently authored a book about the history of dance music cultures in London, 1980-2000, called It's a London Thing: How Rare Groove, Acid House and Jungle Remapped the City (2019). The book is now available from Manchester University Press

I am also a researcher on Bass Culture, a 3-year AHRC-funded research project on the history and impact of Jamaican music (reggae and its many offshoots) in the UK. Research outputs will include a major exhibition, film and online resource. I will be contributing a monograph scheduled for publication in 2019. 

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Helen Glaister Collecting in Public and Private: The Ionides Collection of Chinese Export Porcelain, 1920-1970
Joseph Owen Jackson Kahlil Joseph, New Media and the Audiovisual Atlantic: Music and Moving Images between Africa, America and Europe
Mr Craig Ryder Algorithms @ War: Influence as resistance in post-pandemic Sri Lanka


Contact Caspar