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CFP: Tuning in to African Cities (Birmingham, 6-8 May 2010)

November 9, 2009

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On Behalf Of KATRIEN PYPE […] Sent: 09 November 2009 12:29
To: Sigurjón B Hafsteinsson;
Subject: [Medianthro] CFP Tuning in to African Cities (Birmingham, 6-8/05/2010)

Tuning in to African Cities
Popular Culture and Urban Experience in sub-Saharan Africa
Birmingham, 6-8 May 2010.

The Centre of West African Studies at the University of Birmingham ( and the Institute of Anthropological Research in Africa of the Catholic University of Leuven ( invite applications to contribute to an AEGIS thematic conference which will focus on popular culture in contemporary urban Africa.

We welcome contributions that explore the material and symbolic dimensions of urban forms of popular culture. Our central questions for the conference are:

●How do music and broadcasting media in their material, embodied and symbolic forms participate in the constitution of African urban experience?
●How do urban public spaces and infrastructure in Africa generate specific kinds of practices, discourses and expressions in urban popular culture?

We understand ‘popular culture’ as a zone of ambiguity, constituting a cacophony of sounds and images, and producing variegated narratives, icons and realities. We take ‘urban’ to be a shifting and relative term, which can include small towns as well as major cities. Against this background, the workshop will explore the following themes:

1. Space, infrastructure and zones of entertainment
– How do zones of entertainment shape urban life worlds?
– How do music and media events fashion cityscapes in temporary or permanent ways?
– How do local, transnational and international celebrities move around African cities, towns and villages, whether physically or in the imagination?
– Where and when do people flock to witness musicians and media celebrities? How are these events controlled by state officials, ethnic and religious leaders and other social authorities?

2. Power and popular culture
– What is the place of music and broadcasting in actions of resistance, propaganda and censorship programmes? And how do producers, brokers and audiences adapt to it? – How and when do politicians and religious leaders become celebrities?
– Where are musicians and media producers (actors, hosts, journalists) positioned on the various axes of power and authority?
– What kind of new social categories emerge in the margins of music and media? We can think of journalists, dubbers and translators, shop keepers, etc. Which social categories make a livelihood out of music and media production and events? And how can they achieve this?

3. Time and music/media
– Do music and media genres structure the rhythms of city life?
– What do songs and media productions reveal about memory, nostalgia and hope? How are past, present, and future imagined, expressed and brought about via popular culture?
– How do genres, content and celebrities produce a rift between the generations? And, conversely, in what ways do young and old collectively engage with music and media?

4. Visceral aesthetics and the city
– How does popular culture contribute to ‘the urban feel’ and the imagination of urbanism?
– How ‘urban’ are the aesthetics of music and media that we find in African cities and towns? Do certain music and media productions produce an ‘African urban style’?
– How do the visceral aesthetics of certain music and media genres tie in with larger, more encompassing symbolic worlds such as religion, politics, and/or the market?
– What kind of embodied experiences do music and media producers and audiences yearn for, appreciate, or jettison?

Each presentation will take not more than 20 minutes, plus 10 minutes for discussion. We encourage contributors to include audio-visual material.

How to apply to participate in the conference?

If you wish to present a paper, send a 250-word abstract to David Kerr ( and to Filip De Boeck ( by 1 February 2010. Participants will normally be expected to cover their own travel and accommodation costs. However, funds will be available to support a small number of invited speakers.


EASA Media Anthropology Network

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ismael Sam permalink
    December 2, 2009 10:15 am

    I`m Ethnomusicology Lecturer in Namibia will like to attend your workshop.I willing to share my knowledge and experience where ever possible.

  2. December 4, 2009 12:14 pm

    Hi Ismael

    I’m not in any way involved with this workshop. I suggest you contact the organisers, David Kerr (d.kerr at and Filip De Boeck (Filip.DeBoeck at

    All the best


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