cfp: Diva: Hip-Hop, Feminism, Fierceness

CFP: Diva: Hip-Hop, Feminism, Fierceness

The shift from the margins to the mainstream has occurred simultaneously, over the last few decades, for two groups that now jointly exert a central influence over contemporary culture and politics: female r’n’b and hip-hop artists, and feminist thinkers and activists. The coming together of these two groups and sensibilities has redefined contemporary popular music (in all senses of musics of black origin), and wider culture and politics, in the West – from the banlieues to the White House, from Black Lives Matter to #MeToo, from Betty Davis to Neneh Cherry, TLC to Aaliyah, Alicia Keys to Iggy Azalea, Beyonce to Ariana Grande, and all points in between.

The symposium will seek to address this ongoing development, within the scope of exploring the origins of this shift, its resultant successes and failures, its social activism and relationship to “Black Capitalism”, its identity politics and LGBTQ+ components, its saints and sinners and controversies old and new, and its oppositions to, and recuperations by, the establishment, in African-American and Afro-European contexts, and beyond.

The symposium will culminate with a rare opportunity to view the documentary “Aaliyah Live in Amsterdam”, introduced (and with a Q&A) by its director, Dr. Pogus Caesar: “In 1995, Windrush Productions gained exclusive access to the Amsterdam leg of Aaliyah’s European tour. As well as capturing live footage of the concert, Aaliyah and her late father agreed to be interviewed, in a series of intimate conversations, they speak openly about her musical influences, achievements hopes and dreams. The film captures a star in their ascendancy. As the story unfolds it provides fans with a rare insight into Aaliyah, and leaves us wondering how much she would have achieved had her life not been tragically cut short.” Trailer:

The symposium will open with a keynote lecture by Dr. Kirsty Fairclough (Associate Dean, Research & Innovation, Schools of Arts & Media, University of Salford): “I Slay: Beyonce as Intersectional Feminist, Activist and Diva”.

Proposals for presentations (individual and panel) and interventions should be emailed to Dr Benjamin Halligan ( by 14 June 2019. (Word format, 200-300 words, minimal formatting, including biog note and contact information). Areas to be considered can include (but are not limited to) all music-related matters identified above, the evolution of the figure of the diva, trans cultures and fierceness and diva-ism, media around diva superstars (documentaries, tabloid exposes, MTV and post-MTV music videos, star identity formations, intimacy and interviews), confessions and hagiographies, and all other cultural practices that resonate with this development (fine arts, poetry and literature, DJ cultures and dance, film and television), and the protean nature of feminism, and black feminism, and second to third waves of feminism, that have arisen.

The symposium, which is hosted by the Centre for Film, Media, Discourse & Culture, University of Wolverhampton, will run on 17 July 2019. The registration fee will be £30 (£15 for unwaged, free for all postgraduate researchers). A limited budget is available to reimburse childcare costs, upon application, if that will enable attendance: please enquire. The full programme, and booking details, will be published by 24 June 2019.

For updates, fuller details, and booking, please see