Call for Papers for a thematic issue of Zeitschrift für Weltgeschichte (a German Journal on Global History)

Pop music is constitutively ambivalent: It emerges within the tension between counterculture and capitalist exploitation logic, as can be demonstrated by the formation of rock ‘n‘ roll in the fifties. Furthermore, pop music is characterized by the fusion of various musical styles, making pop music a prototypical example of how different cultural forms, including those from the global South, are appropriated and co-opted by practices originating in the global North. This can be observed in elements like the off-beat rhythms of blues from West Africa and reggae from Jamaica among many other examples. It’s important to note that the principle of fusion is crucial for the continual reformation of pop music, shaping it into a potent practice whose commercial distribution center have historically been predominantly located in the global North. A sociological and historical approach to pop music that does not align with this hegemonic distribution form is known to be challenging. Every scholarly reference is almost compelled to take into account the visible expressions of pop music, which typically obscure the constitutive interweaving of this influential articulation of popular culture with the cultural forms of the global South. In this special issue of the Zeitschrift der Weltgeschichte we seek to find new answers to these challenges. Based on the briefly outlined problematics of pop music, the following questions are intended to be discussed and examined in an interdisciplinary manner.

  1. How can pop music from the global South be identified and appropriately made visible? What are the possibilities and limitations of the cultural and social sciences in making visible something that is regularly marginalized in cultural practice and co-opted by the hegemony of culture? How can the protagonists of pop music from the global South articulate themselves effectively? What historical examples can be found for this?
  2. How can the fusional logic of pop music be adequately reflected upon within the fields of cultural and social sciences? If pop music is inconceivable without cultural appropriation, which is a point for discussion, how can it then be understood as global music without regularly marginalizing its diverse interconnections in line with the capitalist exploitation logic of the global North? What are the implications of this for the cultural and social scientific research of pop music?
  3. What transformations have occurred in the global power dynamics of the pop music industry in recent years due to new digital distribution possibilities, specific trends such as Reggaeton, subcultural infiltrations, decolonial efforts in fields like sound studies, etc.?
  4. Can research on pop music be conducted in the global North from a post-colonial perspective? What methodological premises and theoretical tools do we need for this? What institutional prerequisites need to be established for such research?
  5. How can a contemporary, global, and postcolonial historiography of pop music be formulated, which takes into account the ruptures and discontinuities as well as the significance of the pop musical articulations and influences from the global South in the context of global pop music?

    Zeitschrift für Weltgeschichte is a interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal which is published in German. Contributions in English can be translated.

    Please send your proposal (max. 5000 characters) for a contribution to the thematic issue to or by April 30, 2024