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

Music, Hope and Reimagining Society: the role of music in thinking around Utopia

Posted: February 5th, 2023 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

BFE-RMA-SMI funded Study Day
Friday 16 June 2023, School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast, UK

Whether it be in response to the climate and ecological crisis, geopolitical instability, the pandemic, societal inequalities and injustices, attempts to reimagine society emerge as ever urgent, stirring respective currents in public discourses. There are a growing number of public-funded initiatives or grassroots collaborative movements that orientate their activities towards making room for re-imagining society, aspiring to realize people’s hopes for a better present and future. Two such projects within the UK are, for instance, the National Lottery Community Fund’s ‘Growing Great Ideas’ or ‘Civic Square’ in Birmingham’s ‘Department of Dreams.’

Focusing on musicking, studies have highlighted the decisive role that music can play in imagining utopias (see Levitas, 2010), in fostering social change by means of disrupting established ways of being (see Turino 2016), or in constituting alternative modes of (political) belonging (see Stokes 2018). However, there is much more to be explored regarding the modes in which musicking fosters reinvention. Scholars across diverse disciplines, practitioners, sound-artists and composers all engaging with music in so many different ways, need more insights into the explicit and tacit ways in which musicking contributes to envisioning utopias. Sharing each one’s specific knowledge based on their practice and discipline-scope will enable a broader understanding of the topic.

This study day will explore and expand the field of scholarship concerning the study of music and the imaginary reconstitution of society.

Presentations are welcome on a diverse range of topics and approaches from an interdisciplinary standpoint to the broad themes of hope and societal reimagination. The study day will be organized around four key topics and related questions. We welcome proposals that address the following:

-What role can musicking play in reimagining society?
-How does music facilitate the expression of Utopian ideas?
-How can music critique the status quo?
Promising Spaces
-How does musicking create, demarcate and maintain ‘promising spaces’ that boost critical reimagination?
-How do ‘promising spaces’ foster and reflect on musicking?
-In what ways can music express hope?
-How can music alter the ways that people think of and relate to notions of ‘possibility’?
-How does musicking embody alternative modes of social organisation?
-Can alternative modes of social organisation surmount the moment of musicking?
-How can musicking affect people’s willingness to act upon their hopes and imaginings?


Levitas, Ruth (2010). “In eine bess’ re Welt entrückt: Reflections on Music and Utopia.” Utopian Studies 21 (2): 215-231.

Stokes, Martin (2018). ‘The musical citizen’, Etnomüzikoloji Dergisi (Ethnomusicology Journal), 1 (2), pp. 95–109.

Turino, Thomas (2016), ‘Music, social change and alternative forms of citizenship.’ In D. J. Elliott, M. Silverman and W. D. Bowman (eds), Artistic Citizenship: Artistry, Social Responsibility and Ethical Praxis. Pp. 297–312. New York: Oxford University Press.

Proposals for contributions should be submitted here by 17 February 2023.

Notification of acceptance will be sent by 16 Μarch 2023. For questions you may contact: [email protected]

Registration will open soon.

Accepted Formats of Contributions

20’-Paper proposals: Abstracts of no more than 250 words and title. Please indicate a brief provisional bibliography along with the abstract (not included in the word-count). The name of the author and their email address should appear separately in a cover page.

90’-120’- Organised session proposals: Abstract of no more than 250 words outlining the proposal, and title. Abstracts of no more than 250 words for each contribution included, and title. Please indicate a brief provisional bibliography along with the abstract (not included in the word-count). The names of the proposers and each contributor and their email addresses should appear separately in a cover page.
Posters: This format is proposed particularly to encourage PG participation in the Study Day. Abstracts of no more than 250 words and title. The name of the author and their email address should appear separately in a cover page.

Note: Sound-artists and composers interested in presenting their work, should assume either of the accepted formats. They are strongly encouraged to reach out to the designated email address and discuss the details, so that any requirement can be worked out.

Organizing Committee

Chrysi Kyratsou (PhD student, QUB) and Matthew Warren (Dr, Independent scholar): lead organisers.

Ioannis Tsioulakis (Senior Lecturer, QUB), David Robb (Reader, QUB) and Franziska Schroeder (Professor, QUB): Academic mentors

Keynote Speaker: Dr Ana Hofman

Roundtable and Live Act TBC

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