Graduate Stories: Sebastian J. Lowe

Our second graduate story features Sebastian J. Lowe, who is embarking on his PhD journey at JCU Cairns (Australia) and Aarhus University (Denmark), under the supervision of Associate Professor Jennifer Deger and Professor Ton Otto.

Sebastian J. Lowe

Sebastian J. Lowe

Tell us about yourself

I completed my undergraduate degrees in anthropology, German and music at the University of Waikato, before heading to Scandinavia to further my studies in music and anthropology. In 2016, I completed my Msc in Visual Anthropology at Aarhus University (Denmark). My thesis (part text/film) was entitled, Sounds in worlds and worlds in sounds: Taonga pūoro, mimesis and composition in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

What drew you to anthropology?

I have always been fascinated by other ways of being in the world, especially having spent many years abroad. The combination of anthropology with music and film enables me to bring together my main interests, which includes sound and music, conservation, indigenous rights, and perception.

What are you working on?

At the moment, I am currently putting together a PhD proposal, which is for the moment entitled, Ecological Rights and Indigenous Sound Worlds. This practice-led, audio-visual project explores the relationships between the environment and its human and non-human inhabitants. Through an in-depth critique of local environmental issues through a community-based sound/music project in an indigenous context (yet to be confirmed), I am interested in investigating alternative approaches to land ownership and management. These bio-social, political spaces provide crucial platforms for positive change in how we collectively perceive and conduct ourselves in relation to the environment. This project uniquely identifies sound as a highly revealing medium of enquiry in the study of contemporary indigenous values, practices and ecological politics.

How have you found life as a graduate student?

I am enjoying being back in Aotearoa and opening the pages of this next chapter. I am both excited, overwhelmed and humbled by the journey ahead, which is a good thing. Nothing like being in a state of flux.

What are your current influences?

This is a tricky question because so many people inspire me, however, there is one book by sound ecologist, Bernie Krause, called ‘The Great Animal Orchestra’ (2012), which I find most inspiring. His narrative is very immersive and the themes he touches on are very interesting and relative to my fields of interest – it comes highly recommended!


Lowe, Sebastian J. & Fraser, Alistair. 2018. Connecting with the inner-landscapes: Taonga Puuoro, musical improvisation, and wayfaring through acoustic Aotearoa/ New Zealand. Journal of New Zealand and Pacific Studies. Vienna.

Lowe, Sebastian J. & Crawford, Peter I. 2018. Filming Taonga Pūoro: The potential of experimental film in anthropological and ethnomusicological enquiry. Sites: a journal of social anthropology and cultural studies, New Zealand.

Lowe, Sebastian J. 2016. Sounds in worlds and worlds in sounds: taonga pūoro, mimesis and composition in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Master’s thesis, Aarhus University, Denmark.

Graduate Stories is curated by ASAA/NZ Postgraduate Representative Jacinta Forde. If you would like to share your graduate story with us - or you know of some interesting research being done by a graduate student - please feel free to get in touch. We would love to hear from you!