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

Songs of Social Protest

Posted: November 11th, 2014 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

A two day symposium: Thursday 30th April & Friday 1st May 2015, University of Limerick, Ireland

Following on from successful symposia on The Smiths, Morrissey, Riot Grrrl and David Bowie, the research cluster ‘Popular Music and Popular Culture’, in conjunction with ‘Power, Discourse and Society’ at the University of Limerick, Ireland, now convene a two day symposium to examine songs of social protest from a global perspective. An approach that takes into account the radical contexts of music is central to examining processes of empowerment and disempowerment in the current neoliberal age. Underpinned by a theoretical framework derived from the work of Stuart Hall, Richard Middleton, Ian Peddie, Serge Dennisoff, Philip Tagg, and Johnathan Friedman we take as our starting point that popular culture (in the broadest sense), and music in particular, may reproduce or challenge the cultural / political status quo in contemporary societies across the globe. In this interdisciplinary conference, we therefore particularly welcome papers that address (but are not limited to) the following:

  • What defines songs of social protest?
  • Can songs of social protest create change?
  • What makes a protest song efficacious?
  • What forms do the discursive constructions of protests take within song – i.e. what are the structures of feeling?
  • How is protest ‘performed’?
  • Can we map typologies of protest song?
  • Are particular music genres best suited to protest and if so, why and what are they?
  • How do songs of social protest address inequalities on the basis of ‘Race’, Class, Gender, Disability, Colonialism and Post-Colonialism, LGBTI identities, etc.
  • How do we talk about and assess the relationship between songs of social protest and social movements?
  • What informs discourses of ‘authenticity’ in songs of social protest?
  • What are the musical roots of protest songs – Punk, Riot Grrrl, Folk, Oi! etc?
  • How do protest songs take on local and regional shape in different parts of the world?
  • What are the foci and impetuses of contemporary songs of social protest across the globe?
  • How can we trace (and critique) the social significance of commercial artists’ occasional forays into the ‘protest’ song genre?
  • Have particular artists’ (Bob Dylan, Swarathma, Billy Bragg, Las Cafeteras Saul Williams, Public Enemy, Kiyoshiro Imawano, Rage against the Machine, Piñata Protest, etc.) contributions made an impact of any social significance?
  • Do protest songs today need a music video to create an impact?
  • What are the different ways in which governments treat singers of social protest songs and how is that discursively framed in their respective media?


Please submit a Word document containing your paper title, a 250 word abstract, and author information including full name, institutional affiliation, email address, and a 50-word bio to [email protected] by 9th January 2015. A maximum of 30 minutes will be allocated to each conference paper (20 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for questions). Panel proposals (three presenters – 90 minutes) should include a 150 word overview and 250 word individual abstracts (plus author information listed above). We also welcome proposals for workshops, film screenings, performances etc. Notifications regarding acceptance will be sent by January 30th 2015.

Planned Academic Outputs:

The organisers are editors of the Discourse, Power, and Society book series published by Rowman & Littlefield International. It is their intention to propose an edited collection arising from fully revised papers initially presented at this symposium to the publisher as part of that series. It is also envisaged that symposium outputs will include a special issue of a journal.

Symposium Conveners:

Dr. Martin Power, Dept. of Sociology, University of Limerick.
Dr. Aileen Dillane, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick.
Dr. Eoin. Devereux, Dept. of Sociology, University of Limerick.
Dr Amanda Haynes, Dept. of Sociology, University of Limerick.

For further information please contact: [email protected]

Leave a Reply