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

Popular Music and the Anthropocene

Posted: April 29th, 2018 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

Special issue of Popular Music
François Ribac (University of Burgundy/IRCAM-APM) and Paul Harkins (Edinburgh Napier University)

Many geologists, climatologists, philosophers, historians, sociologists, activists, and Non-Governmental Organisations believe that our planet has now entered into the anthropocene era (Bonneuil & Fressoz 2013). The common idea is that human activities now have a decisive effect on the earth’s ecosystem: the fast and increasing disappearance of a considerable number of plant and animal species, the melting of glaciers and pack ice, rising sea levels, extreme climatic events, and pollution. These phenomena impact on human activities, leading to forced migrations, the pauperisation of entire communities (often those least responsible for climate change), and, ultimately, to major upheavals. The goal of this special issue of Popular Music is to understand how popular music should and can be described, analysed, and transformed in the Anthropocene, considered both as a concept as well as a material process.

The Anthropocene Era implies that we must engage societies in a socio-ecological transition towards less destructive forms of living, forcing us to reconsider the concept and the consequences of modernity itself. For modernity does not only mean social facts such as mechanisation, industrialisation, the conquest of the world, constant economic growth, and the rise of capitalism but also narratives and discourses: a distinction between humans and nature, differences between Europeans and ‘others’, a teleological conception of history, and a belief in endless progress (Latour 1991).

We welcome proposals for articles that address one or more of the following broad categories:

History and narratives

  • how does popular music give shape to the concepts of (non-)western culture and nature in recordings, performances, and films?
  • Is the Anthropocene changing our understanding of the sonic dimension of the world (Krause 2015)?
  • How can popular music (worlds) contribute to new narratives about the socio-ecological transition (Ingram 2010)?


  • what theoretical problems must we address in dealing with the Anthropocene? what kinds of (new) concepts and methodologies do we need?
  • How do we conceive of popular music if we give up our understanding of context, environment, nature (Morton 2007)?
  • How can ethnomusicology, ecomusicology, sound studies, record production studies, cultural studies, queer studies, gender studies, subaltern studies, postcolonial studies, ecocriticism, and geology of media be enlisted in this project (Devine 2015; Allen & Dawe 2016; Parikka 2015)?
  • Ecological costs and activism
  • how do we understand ecological damage and obsolescence in popular music (Pedelty 2012)?
  • How do we rethink, or at least clarify, the idea of sustainability (Schippers, Huib & Grant 2016; Kagan & Kirchberg 2016)?
  • What should be the specific contribution of popular musicians, business, and audiences to the challenges of climate change?

Please send abstracts and queries to François Ribac ([email protected]) and Paul Harkins ([email protected]). Proposals from all academic disciplines are welcome.

Deadline for articles (max. 10,000 words, bibliography inclusive): 1 June 2019
Planned publication: January 2020


Allen, Aaron S., & Kevin Dawe, eds. Current Directions in Ecomusicology: Music, Culture, Nature. Routledge. New York, 2016.
Bonneuil, Christophe, & Fressoz, Jean-Baptiste Fressoz. 2013. L’événement Anthropocène. Seuil. Paris, 2013.
Devine, Kyle. ‘Decomposed: A Political Ecology of Music.’ Popular Music 34, no. 3 (October 2015): 367–89.
Ingram, David. Jukebox in the Garden. Ecocriticism and American Popular Music Since 1960. Rodopi. Amsterdam, 2010.
Kagan, Sacha, and Volker Kirchberg. “Music and Sustainability: Organizational Cultures towards Creative Resilience E a Review.” Journal of Cleaner Production 135 (2016): 1487–1502.
Krause, Bernie. Voices of the Wild: Animal Songs, Human Din, and the Call to Save Natural Soundscapes. Yale University Press. London, 2015.
Latour, Bruno. Nous n’avons jamais été modernes. Éditions de la Découverte & Syros. Paris, 1991.
Morton, Timothy. Ecology Without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, 2007.
Parikka, Jussi. A Geology of Media. University of Minnesota Press. Minneapolis, 2015.
Pedelty, Mark. Ecomusicology: Rock, Folk, and the Environment. Temple University Press. Philadelphia, 2012.
Schippers, Huib, and Catherine Grant, eds. Sustainable Futures for Music Cultures. A Ecological Perspective. Oxford University Press. New York, 2016.

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