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

The Power of Hip Hop

Posted: April 21st, 2016 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

Call for Submissions
A one-day seminar on the role of hip hop in affecting positive social change
Papers from academics, practitioners and postgraduate students encouraged

Type: Seminar
Date: Friday 8th July 2016-04-14
Location: Rich Mix Cultural Foundation, London, UK
Subject Fields: Contemporary History, Humanities, Politics, African American History, International Development, Contemporary & Popular Music
Organisation Website: www.inplaceofwar.net
Programme Website: www.inplaceofwar.wix.com/london2016

How to apply

Abstracts of 200 words for 20-minute individual paper presentations, 10 minute short papers/provocations or 60-minute round table discussions on targeted issues or topics are welcome.

For queries and submissions contact: [email protected] / 07448 711 178

Deadline: 9am, Monday 16th May 2016

In Place of War are seeking speakers and participants wishing to explore hip hop as a site of identity construction, activism, education and community formation. This is a multidisciplinary field and we’re seeking artists, academics, activists and postgraduate students with an interest in hip hop as a tool for bringing about small and large scale social change.

This event is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, and supported by The Guardian, and forms part of a wider programme of events called Culture.Conflict.Change. The Power of Hip Hop academic seminar will precede a day of public talks and performances featuring international and UK artists, activists and entrepreneurs sharing how they have used hip hop as a tool for social change.

‘Fight between my conscience and the skin that’s on my body / Man I need to fight the power but I need that new Ferrari’

In Vince Staples’ 2016 track ‘Lift Me Up’, he grapples with the double headed power of hip hop – acknowledging at once the empowerment and social mobility possible with celebrity and success; but also the importance of hip hop as a site of resistance and identity. Staples’ words also speak to hip hop as a force of economic mobility, albeit one that carries within it a trace of guilt at having escaped a level of deprivation still extremely commonplace in the 21st century.

These lyrics suggest a burden of choice upon the practitioners of hip hop. Why should these options – to enjoy success or to express oneself – be mutually exclusive? Does hip hop offer an opportunity for social mobility that also allows the marginalised to be heard? Or is it, rather, being degraded and subsumed by the cultural mainstream as another impossible, aspirational ideal that plays into the hands of the few at the top, whilst giving those at the bottom just enough to hope to maintain the status quo?

Or does this binary of money and ideology overly simplify the discipline?  Is the power of hip hop greater and broader still? Despite a conflation with worlds of consumerism and violence, hip hop is a site of learning, rehabilitation and expression for communities all over the world. Hip hop is offering alternative lives to gang members in Colombia, providing education in Venezuela, fighting for freedom of speech in Zimbabwe, raising political awareness in Senegal, and mobilising protestors in Egypt.

There is perhaps a contradiction within hip hop – a tool for self-determination and self-expression for a global subaltern, but also the vehicle and playground of the super-rich and famous. And yet to deny hip hop either of these roles might be to strip it of its unique role as a social leveller that has spread itself globally and across the social spectrum to move from a subculture to one of the most widely consumed forms of entertainment and art in the world.

The power of hip hop is also, of course, in its aesthetic merit – a mastery of language and physicality; an exercise in the relative textures of individual, collaborative and competitive art forms; a shock of colour, sound and beauty often out of a backdrop or deprivation and conflict. It is these sites of power that we look here to explore.

We welcome papers exploring, but not limited to, the following themes:

  • Hip Hop as a social leveller
  • The subjective perspectives of hip hop culture
  • The relationship between hip hop and religion
  • Hip Hop and its economic models
  • The role of Hip Hop across London’s diverse populations
  • Immigrant identities and hip hop
  • The role of hip hop in mainstream and alternative education
  • The characteristics of hip hop as a tool for social activism
  • Models of hip hop consumption: Grassroots vs. commercial
  • Hip Hop and entrepreneurialism

This event provides delegates the opportunity to showcase their work and network with other academics and practitioners operating within the field. We actively encourage inter-disciplinary discussion and learning and seek to promote this through all of the work that we do. All talks and presentations will be made available digitally via the In Place of War YouTube channel, with promotion by national partners. An e-journal will also be published featuring all presentations.

About In Place of War

In Place of War is a multi-award winning organisation based within The University of Manchester. We support artists and creative communities living in sites of war, conflict and humanitarian disaster to build powerful networks, create social change through creativity and demonstrate the value of the arts to public space, public life and public debate. In Place of War started in 2004 as an AHRC-funded research project on the relationship between performance and war. It has since received four different AHRC grants and one from the Leverhulme trust. It was awarded a THES Excellence and Innovation in the Arts award in 2010 and has featured in local, national and international media. In Place of War was also a finalist in the 2015 Guardian Higher Education Awards.

Today our work is spread across five core areas: research, education, digital networks and creative spaces, and artistic production. Our team is headed by Founder & Co-Director Professor James Thompson, and Co-Director Ruth Daniel.

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