cfp: BFE2020 Annual Conference

Call for Papers

British Forum for Ethnomusicology Annual Conference 2020
16-19 April 2020
Bath Spa University, Newton Park, Bath, UK

Keynote speaker: Dr Angela Impey (SOAS, University of London)

As with all BFE Annual Conferences we welcome papers and panels on any aspect of current ethnomusicological research.

The 2020 theme will be Music, Culture and Nature.

In a time of mounting environmental concern, ethnomusicology is well placed to contribute to the achievements of ecomusicology (Allen and Dawe, 2016) that interrogate the ‘web of interactions between biodiversity, climate and human wellbeing’ (The Guardian, 6 May 2019). Indeed, ethnomusicologists have already provided insights into the cultural dimensions of ecological crises across a wide range of settings (Grant, 2018; Silvers, 2018). Building on the BFE one-day conference ‘Listening for a Change: Music, Environment, Action’ in 2011, this annual conference will develop ethnomusicology’s critical engagement with the most recent research from disciplines such as environmental science, environmental humanities, sound studies and ecomusicology. Steven Feld’s development of acoustemology prioritises ‘relational practices of listening and sounding’ (2017: 87) across species and materialities, proposing an alternative to soundscape and sound studies. To decentre the human, scholars are increasingly taking a multispecies approach to ethnomusicology. In line with Ochoa Gautier’s writing (2016), how might the study of music and sound allow us to interrogate further the constitution of ontological categories like ‘nature’ and ‘culture’? How do ethnomusicologists evaluate and interpret sonic practices in human, non-human and more-than-human worlds? How are spiritual relationships with the natural environment expressed through sound and music? What can musical practices or sound worlds tell us about the natural environment (and vice versa) which can in turn inform the socio-ecological transition to more environmentally-conscious forms of living? By drawing connections between sound, culture and the world’s ecosystems this conference provides an opportunity for ethnomusicology to make a meaningful contribution to the challenges we face, including the environmental impact of ethnomusicological activities themselves, and of music consumption.

We invite you to submit papers, panels, roundtables, posters, and films on any aspect of research. We particularly invite presentations that focus on the intersection of ethnomusicology with the following areas:

• Interpretations of the relationship between culture and nature and the constitution of such categories; music, nature and intersectional identity (including ecofeminism, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, age, disability); environmental justice, postcolonial politics, indigenous rights, and their intersection;

• Environmental impacts of musical practices (materials and musical instruments), and music consumption (technology and the recording industry);

• Climate crisis and environmental determinism; the politics of the Anthropocene; values of conservation, preservation and restoration in culture and nature including the relationship between sustainability, culture and heritage;

• Issues of sustainability and diversity across musical, cultural, linguistic and/or biological domains;

• Natural or ecological themes in musical discourse (transmission, performance techniques, aesthetics), iconography, imagery and branding;

• Nature and landscape in the performance of musical nationalism or minority identities;

• Human / non-human / environmental interactions through sounding and listening: acoustemology, soundscape ecology, acoustic ecology, and acoustic multinaturalism (after Ochoa Gautier);

• The audible and the inaudible: spirits, animals and plants as musical agents and ethnographic subjects; interspecies communication, bioacoustics and biosemiotics.

For more information see the conference website:

· Allen, Aaron S. and Kevin Dawe (eds), (2016), Current Directions in Ecomusicology: Music, Nature, Environment (New York and London: Routledge).
· Feld, Steven (2015), ‘On Post-Ethnomusicology Alternatives: Acoustemology’, Francesco Giannattasio and Giovanni Giuriati (eds), Perspectives on a 21st Century Comparative Musicology: Ethnomusicology or Transcultural Musicology? (Udine: Nota), 82-98.
· Grant, Catherine (2018), ‘Academic flying, climate change, and ethnomusicology: personal reflections on a professional problem’. Ethnomusicology Forum 27 (2), 123-135.
· Ochoa Gautier, Ana María (2016) ‘Acoustic Multinaturalism, the Value of Nature, and the Nature of Music in Ecomusicology’. boundary 2. 43 (1), 107-141.
· Silvers, Michael B. (2018), Voices of Drought: The Politics of Music and Environment in Northeastern Brazil (Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press).
· Watts, Jonathan, (2019) ‘Human society under urgent threat from loss of Earth’s natural life’. The Guardian.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS 1 NOVEMBER 2019. Successful applicants will be notified in December. Please note that all presenters must be members of the BFE:

Proposals are invited for:
• Individual papers (20 minutes with 10 minutes for questions)
• Collaborative presentations (for example with practitioners or with scholars from different disciplines, especially scientists or environmental artists)
• Panels (3 or 4 linked papers around a theme, totalling 1.5 or 2 hours)
• Round tables (3 or 4 shorter presentations, around 15 minutes each, followed by a chaired discussion, totalling 1.5 or 2 hours)
• Posters
• Films, audio or other media presentations

Paper and panel abstracts should be submitted to EasyChair.

Use the following formats to enable anonymous review:
• Paper proposals: include the name and email address of the proposer, paper title, and abstract (the latter not exceeding 250 words). The name of the proposer should not appear in the body of the abstract.
• Organised session proposals: include the names and email addresses of the proposer and the other participants, a title and overall abstract for the session (not exceeding 250 words), and abstracts for each contributor (no more than 250 words each). The names of the proposer and participants should not appear in the body of the abstracts.
• Roundtable proposals: include the names and email addresses of the proposer and the other participants (the proposer will be assumed to be the chair unless stated otherwise), a title and overall abstract for the roundtable (not exceeding 250 words), and abstracts for each contributor (no more than 250 words each). The names of the proposer and participants should not appear in the body of the abstracts.
• Poster proposals: include the name and email address of the researcher, poster title, and a description of the material to be presented (not exceeding 250 words). The name of the proposer should not appear in the description.
• Proposals for films, audio or other media presentations: include the name and email of the proposer, title of film/presentation, abstract (not exceeding 250 words), and length of film/presentation. The name of the proposer should not appear in the body of the abstract.

Given the theme of the conference, delegates from outside the UK/EU may present their paper virtually. When submitting your abstract, please indicate if you wish to take up this option.

Any questions or problems please email:

BFE Student Prize and Bursaries
Student presenters are encouraged to submit their papers for the BFE Student Prize (, awarded annually for the best student paper presented at the BFE annual conference. Students may also apply for a BFE Bursary to assist with the cost of attending the conference. Details concerning the prize and bursaries will be circulated closer to the conference date.

BFE Code of Conduct
BFE conferences are run in accordance with the BFE Conference Code of Conduct. By taking part in a BFE conference, you agree to be bound by this code.