Welcome to The International Association for the Study of Popular Music UK and Ireland Branch

Memory, Power, and Knowledge in African Music and Beyond

Posted: December 4th, 2013 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

Date: September 03-06, 2014
Venue: University of Cape Coast, Ghana
Language: English

This conference seeks to explore, both from historical and contemporary perspectives, the nexus between memory, power, and knowledge in the music of Africa and its various diasporas. These explorations encompass the history and politics of sound archiving and scholarly practices as much as intersections of memory, power, and knowledge in musical performance itself. The contexts within which we would like to examine this broader field include, but are not limited to, the realms of popular culture, politics, religion, as well as education. Throughout history, music has been a crucial means in the representation of power and status as well as the negotiation of individual and collective identities. As a repository of knowledge, musical practice often functions as a form of social memory, which we understand not as a static entity but as a dynamic field within shifting power relations on both the local and translocal level. Media technology has, over more than a century now, played an important role in the reconfiguration of this nexus, and particularly the rise of electronic media in recent years has changed and accelerated its dynamics. Finally, our own engagement as scholars is deeply implicated in the intersection of memory, power, and knowledge, compelling us to constantly question our canons and to reflect on the implications of academic research.

The conference wants to provide a forum for discussions on these and related issues in a decidedly transdisciplinary setting, serving as a conclusion to the research project “The Formation and Transformation of Musical Archives in West African Societies” that has been funded by the Volkswagen Foundation since 2009. In order to embed the focus on music in Africa into a wider perspective, we also seek contributions that reference other locales as well as other cultural practices within the thematic triangle of memory, power, and knowledge. Invited speakers that have confirmed their participation include Akosua Addo, Kofi Agawu, Karin Barber, Philip V. Bohlman, David Coplan, Louise Meintjes, Anthony Seeger, Jesse W. Shipley, Ruth Stone, Timothy D. Taylor, Diane Thram and Bob W. White. A joint publication of selected conference papers is envisaged.


Proposals should include an abstract of no more than 250 words, paper title and 3 to 5 keywords, as well as your full name, academic affiliation and contact information. The conference will provide a special section for young scholars (master students at a late and doctoral students at an early stage of their work). Please indicate, if you wish to apply for participation in this programme.

The submission deadline is January 15, 2014. Proposals should be sent by email to Kerstin Klenke ([email protected]) in one of the following file formats: doc/docx/rtf/odt/txt. Notifications will be made before March 31, 2014.

Speakers are expected to secure funding to cover their expenses for travel, room and board themselves, but may apply for financial support from the organisers, if no other sources are available.


  • Center for World Music (CWM), University of Hildesheim (Germany)
  • Department of Music & Dance, University of Cape Coast (Ghana)
  • Department of Education, University of Maiduguri (Nigeria)
  • African Music Archives (AMA), Department of Anthropology and African Studies, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (Germany)

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