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Doing Fieldwork in Nightlife Scenes and EDMCs

Posted: February 26th, 2012 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

Special edition of Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture
Guest editor, Luis-Manuel Garcia | http://dj.dancecult.net/

This special edition of Dancecult seeks to address the fact that, although many EDM (Electronic Dance Music) projects have a significant ethnographic component, there are few methodological resources available to ethnographers of EDM scenes/cultures.

There is presently a near-total lack of pedagogical materials on nightlife or EDM-specific fieldwork, and even descriptive or critical writing that takes such fieldwork as a central theme is scant and fragmented. While some EDMC ethnographers describe and discuss their own fieldwork approach in the appendices and introductory chapters of their doctoral dissertations (and, less frequently, their monographs), these ruminations rarely come into critical dialogue with other EDMC ethnographers and thus do not actively engage in the development of a body of ethnographic methods in EDMC studies.

Certainly, there is no agreed-upon body of “best practices” or even “first principles” in the field of EDMC ethnography, in contrast to larger and older ethnographic disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology, folklore, oral history, etc. While one may rightly ask whether a unified pedagogy of ethnographic methods is desirable in such a diverse field, there are nonetheless several practical, ethical and legal considerations particular to EDMC-fieldwork that the young ethnographer should not have to face alone. These include such issues as:

  • Exposing/endangering the identities of participants in scenes that often involve transgressive activities (e.g., drug consumption, sex, sartorial exuberance, genderfuck)
  • Establishing trust in communities that are wary of researchers and journalists
  • Addressing the ethnographic directive for gathering archival “evidence” (video, images, audio) while respecting local norms of privacy and cultural ownership
  • Preventing one’s fieldwork activities from interfering with participants’ engagement with/enjoyment of music events
  • Dealing with the practical limitations of fieldwork at EDM events (music, noise, lighting, etc.)
  • Cultivating fieldwork contacts in a cultural milieu that has little to gain from collaborating with scholars (and, in some more privileged urban scenes, the complexities of “studying up”).
  • Managing the financial costs of participant-observation in the “leisure/entertainment industry.”
  • Managing the physical impact of the primarily nocturnal rhythms of EDM scenes, especially for researchers maintaining an academic “day job” as an educator or administrator.

Thus, this special edition of Dancecult seeks contributions from ethnographers of EDM—whatever their disciplinary background—to address this lacuna through elaboration, analysis, and dialogue.

Suggested themes

The editor encourages that contributions be grounded in the author’s own fieldwork experiences and focused on a particularly relevant theme, rather than on fieldwork in general. Such themes might include (but are not limited to):

  • Gender and sexuality (of the researcher, of scene participants, of the community)
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Embodiment and dis/ability
  • Privacy and publicity
  • Money, capital, research budgets, fieldwork in consumer cultures
  • Professionalism and the view of the academe on doing “fun” research
  • Intoxication, illicit activities, and the notion of “risk”
  • Legal issues, law enforcement
  • Urban settings, rural settings, outdoor events
  • Tourism, resorts
  • Festivals and other large and/or regular events
  • Researching public funding, sponsorship, and private investment in EDM events
  • Working with promoters, club managers, organizers, etc. (especially in a competitive or secretive environment)


Feature Articles:
Feature Articles will be peer-reviewed and are 6000–9000 words in length (including endnotes, captions and bibliography). For policies, see this link.

“From the Floor” Articles:
This special edition will also feature a special version of the From the Floor format: “Tales from the Field.” Submissions for this shorter format (750–2500 words) should relate one (illuminating / thought-provoking / exemplary / problematic / surprising) vignette from one’s own fieldwork, followed by brief and exploratory comments. This format will be of particular interest to scholars who wish to share some of the insights of their fieldwork, but are unable to devote the time necessary for a feature-length and argument-driven article.

See guidelines at the Section Policies link above

Articles must adhere to all style and formatting rules stipulated in the Dancecult Style Guide (DSG). Download it here.

Multimedia Submissions:
Dancecult encourages authors to complement their written work with audio and visual material. See the DSG for style and formatting requirements.

Although the language of publication in Dancecult is English, the editor strongly encourages submissions from non-Anglophone scholars and will be happy to provide linguistic/stylistic support during the writing process.

Dates and deadlines

This special edition is proposed for publication in Dancecult in April/May 2013.

If interested, send a 250 word abstract (along with brief author bio) to Luis-Manuel Garcia ([email protected]) by **APRIL 30th, 2012.**

If your abstract is accepted, the deadline for full article submission is November 1st, 2012. Beyond that, the deadline for online submission to Dancecult (for peer review) is February 1st, 2013.

Please send inquiries and expressions of interest to Luis-Manuel Garcia: [email protected].

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