cfp: How Does “Your” Music Sound? Belonging, Communities, and Identities in Popular Music across Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe

Call for Abstracts:

*How Does “Your” Music Sound? Belonging, Communities, and Identities in Popular Music across Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe*

International conference, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia, November 9-10, 2023

Over the past three decades, case studies from Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe have enriched the fields of popular music studies, sonic studies, cultural studies, and ethnomusicology, offering insights into the complex entanglements between music practices, industries, and audiences on the one hand, and different aspects of belonging, identification, and community-formation on the other. Analyses of modern local and regional popular-music manifestations such as (turbofolk, Austropop, chalga, manele, tallava, Serbian trapfolk, Bulgarian trap, Slovenian folk pop etc.) provide an invaluable insight into the multitude of music- and soundscapes in the region. They also present a springboard for further inquiry into the mechanisms, impact, and architectures of belonging, identification, and communities in this diverse space, historically marked by a vibrant dynamic of glitches, ruptures, and connections.

This conference takes its cue from Connell and Gibson’s (2002: 9) perceptively dialectical observation that while “music is simultaneously a commodity and cultural expression, it is also quite uniquely both the most fluid of cultural forms /…/ and a vibrant expression of cultures and traditions, at times held onto vehemently in the face of change.” Music connects people, enabling constellations of listeners, performers, and industry actors that are not always easy to predict, as well as consolidating extant communities based around various notions, such as shared memory, generation, class, gender, or nation. Indeed, recent scholarship has focussed extensively on popular music’s entanglements with space in place in terms of its cultural geographies, transnational and transcultural flows, diasporic significance, scenes, and various kinds of belonging. Ewa Mazierska and Zsolt Győri’s (2018) inspiring edited volume demonstrates the conceptual significance of a transnational approach to studying popular music in Eastern Europe, while Steinbrecher (2020), Kovačič (2022), Archer (2011), Hofman (2010), Dumnić Vilotijević (2020), Stanković (2021), Kaluža (2021), Špirić Beard and Rasmussen (eds., 2021) and Bobnič et al. (2022) point to the need to further broaden the context of discussion, re-examining territorialization processes from a post-transitional European perspective, characterized by a high degree of connectivity, and by shared sensibilities, aesthetics, as well as rhetorical and political strategies. In this space, characterized by mobility and flux, as well as by the proliferation of populist rhetorical strategies that call for exclusionist identification, the Eastern, Central, and South-Eastern European spaces need to be thought alongside one another.

In this context, this conference seeks to unpack how the notion of “ours” gets entangled with music, producing various definitions of “our music” that may refer to diverse reference points, from the nation to the hood; from the club to the TikTok channel. Foregrounding Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe as a loose anchoring point, we invite proposals for contributions that examine how identities and communities are constituted, negotiated, maintained, and contested in the context of popular music. We are especially interested in contributions that account for the specificities of modern popular-music production (in the context of cultural and creative industries), distribution (in the context of media complexes, gatekeeping mechanisms, policies), framing (e. g. as heritage), reception and performance. We also welcome contributions that engage with the question of how politics of belonging as constructed, nurtured through music as listening and performing is also based on the processes of exclusion, marginalization, and “Othering”. Prospective participants are invited to submit proposals for individual papers, panels and roundtables engaging with the overarching topic. Presentation themes may include, but are not limited to, the following foci:

– the constitution of the “folk”, “people”, and “nation” in popular music;

– the constitution of “our music” around anchoring points such as class, subculture, gender, religion, diaspora, generation, etc.;

– populism and popular music;

– music audience and reception studies;

– notions of home and abroad and popular music;

– “our” musicians, from Divas to Kings of people’s hearts, and local legends;

– tradition, re- and neotraditionalization in popular music;

– “rural”, “urban” and otherwise territorially defined sounds;

– popular music, identity, collective memory, and memory work;

– popular music and the politics of taste;

– popular music as “belonging” based on exclusion;

– popular music in the context of the geographical (and ideological) differences between West and East, North and South;

– the role of popular music in social conflicts, ethnic tensions and wars.

Apart from panels, keynote speeches, and accompanying events, this conference will include a round table focusing on popular music research in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, co-organized by the IASPM D-A-CH branch, to consolidate and encourage new connections between regional scholars.

Abstracts (up to 250 words) and a short bibliography (up to 150 words), as well as any potential questions regarding the event, should be sent to the conference organizers at <>.

*Abstract submission deadline: May 10, 2023.*

The conference will be held in English. Notifications regarding accepted contributions will be circulated in June 2023. This is an on-site only event. There is no registration fee for this event.

This conference is supported through the ARRS-funded research project “Slovenian Folk-Pop Music as Politics: Perceptions, Receptions, and Identities (2020-2023)” hosted by the University of Ljubljana and led by Prof. Peter Stanković, and through IASPM.