Balancing The Mix: A Conference on Popular Music and Social Justice

Balancing The Mix: A Conference on Popular Music and Social Justice
University of Memphis, 30 March 2019

The history of post-war popular music has been closely associated with concerns for social justice. It is not only that particular ideals (equality, community, rights, an end to oppression and discrimination) have animated the public sphere; it is also that those ideals have – whether we look at blues, gospel, world music, punk or hip-hop, for instance – been central in many music genres. This is no surprize, insofar as post-war popular music has developed in parallel with the rise of humanism, the postcolonial era, civil rights, the culture wars, and the rise of identity politics. In that sense, and more, music has been political, and further politicized: employed as an opportunity to establish empathy, express solidarity, and mobilize agents of change. Issues of social justice have in turn influenced public decisions about, for example, music funding, heritage and archiving. For this conference, we invite papers (or panels) based on topics related to popular music and social justice in the widest sense. These may include:

· Popular music and civil rights
· Personal freedom, music and social justice
· Utopian conceptions of social justice in music cultures
· Listening and social justice
· Cultural appropriation, composition and performance
· Music and social justice in the context of neoliberalism
· Questions of rights, privilege or shared victimhood in relation to popular music
· Gender equality, sexual identity and popular music
· Religion, social justice and music
· Socialism, communism and popular music
· Social justice, music and charities
· Southern music, social history and issues of race, class and/or gender
· Non-western musical cultures or intercultural music and social justice
· Labour, class and popular music
· Ethical creeds publicly expressed by musicians and music movements
· Popular music and social justice in the context of colonialism and foreign policy
· Reactionary music cultures
· Music and conceptions of meritocracy or the social order
· Music and disability
· Expressing equality through music making or listening
· Music fandom, activism, participatory culture and social justice
· Song collecting, archiving and issues of social justice
· Social justice, music, and humanism / posthumanism
· Music, contemporary criticism of social justice, and the rise of the ‘alt right’

Please send an abstract of under 300 words together with a one-sentence biography to:

Deadline for the submission of abstracts will be 24 September 2018.

Successful candidates will be notified by 1 November 2018. The length of presentations shall be 20 minutes maximum. Registration fee $100 / $75 (unwaged).

For more details see:

Organizers: Dr Amanda Nell-Edgar (University of Memphis), Dr Mark Duffett (University of Chester)

Committee: Dr Andre E. Johnson (University of Memphis), Professor Sara Cohen (University of Liverpool), Dr Robert Fry (Vanderbilt University), Professor Claude Chastagner (Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3).