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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | bologna.lab | Projekte des bologna.labs | Berlin Perspectives | Lehrveranstaltungen | Sommersemester 2016 | Europe’s Nightlife Capital? Electronic Music and Events in Berlin

Europe’s Nightlife Capital? Electronic Music and Events in Berlin

Taught by Bianca Ludewig

Wednesday, 14:00 - 16:00, Hausvogteiplatz 5-7, Room 0323-26



Course Description

The seminar will facilitate an introduction to basic methods and scientific tools for the research of popular music. As pop-music changes in a global, transnational and networked world so does the research, and popular music studies become an increasingly trans- and multi-disciplinary field. This course looks at theories and methods from fields like anthropology, media studies, musicology, and cultural studies. What are today’s challenges when studying popular music? What are the social meanings and cultural implications of popular music? What are scenes, subcultures, post-subcultures or genres in popular music? What is the commodification of experience? The seminar will touch upon discourses like Festivalization, Eventization or Gentrification, and will focus on electronic music and related events in Berlin.


Electronic music marks a fundamental break with the paradigms of former rock / pop criticism and research. The seminar investigates Berlin as a traditional stronghold of the international electronic music scene – which is constantly connected to the creative industries or the realm of organisation. The course aims to understand which geographic, economic, political or cultural particularities helped to shape the multi-layered landscape of Berlin’s electronic music scenes and club cultures. The seminar approaches electronic music as an example for specific post-subcultures, scenes, and genres. Through theoretical approaches we gain forms of access, which depict the complexity of electronic music as a highly organized and institutionalized cultural practice within a post-industrial society. We will read a lot! And watch documentaries, music videos, or listen to audios. Theory will be complemented through ethnography. The participants will get a basic introduction to ethnographic methods which will be applied during short fieldtrips to selected events.



  • Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001): All Music Guide to Electronica. The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music. Backbeat Books.
  • Brabazon, Tara (2012): Popular Music. Topics, Trends, Trajectories. London, Sage Publications.
  • Denk, Felix & Sven von Thülen (2012): Der Klang der Familie - Berlin, Techno und die Wende. Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp.(English and German edition available)
  • Emerson, Robert/ Fretz, Rachel (1995): Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago/ London, University of Chicago Press.
  • Eshun, Kodwo (1999): Heller als die Sonne. Abenteuer in der Sonic Fiction/ Adventures in Sonic Fiction. Berlin, ID Verlag. (English and German edition available)
  • Farrugia, Rebekah (2013): Beyond the Dancefloor. Female DJs, Technology and Electronic Dance Music Culture. University of Chicago Press.
  • Gellner, David/ Hirsch, Eric (2001): Inside Organizations. Anthropologists at Work. Berg.
  • Gilbert, Jeremy/ Pearson, Ewan (1999): Discographies . Dance Music Culture and Politics of Sound. New York/ Florence, Routledge.
  • Hesmondhalgh, David (2008): Towards a critical understanding of music, emotion, and self-identity. In: Consumption, markets and culture, 11 (4), 329-343.
  • Hitzler, Roland/ Pfadenhauer, Michaela (2002): Existential Strategies: The Making of Community and Politics in the Techno/ Rave Scene. Altamira Press. In: Postmodern Existetial Sociology, p. 87-102.
  • Holt, Fabian (2007): Genre in popular music. University of Chicago Press.


  • Marcus, George E. (1995): Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography. In: Annual Reviews Inc., S .95-117.
  • Marcus, George E./ James Faubion (2009): Fieldwork is not what it used to be. Learning anthropology’s method in a time of transition. New York, Cornell University Press.
  • Muggelton, David/  Weinzierl, Rupert (2003): The Post-Subcultures Reader. Berg.
  • Rapp, Tobias (2009): Lost and Sound. Berlin, Techno und der Easyjetset. Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp. (English and German edition available)
  • Redhead, Steve (1997): The Clubcultures Reader. Readings in Popular Cultural Studies, Blackwell.
  • Reynolds, Simon (1999): Generation Ecstasy – Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture. Routledge.
  • Stahl, Geoff (2014): Poor, But Sexy. Reflections on Berlin Scenes. Peter Lang Verlag.
  • Straw, Will (2001): Scenes and Sensibilities, in: Public 22/23, p. 245-257
  • Thornton, Sarah: Club Cultures. Music, Media and Subcultural Capital, Cambridge 1995.
  • Wall, Tim (2013): Studying Popular Music Culture, SAGE Publications.