Jazz Beyond Borders Conference (4-7 September 2014, Conservatory of Amsterdam)

Dec 11 2013

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Call for Papers

The Third International Rhythm Changes Conference, hosted by the Conservatory of Amsterdam.  The event is delivered in partnership with the University of Amsterdam, University of Salford, Birmingham City University, Open University, and Amsterdam World Jazz City 2014.

Keynote Speakers

Steven Feld (musician, filmmaker and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Music at the University of New Mexico)

John Gennari (Associate Professor of English and Director, ALANA U.S. Ethnic Studies Program, University of Vermont)

Conference outline

Jazz Beyond Borders (and: Beyond the Borders of Jazz) seeks to critically explore how borders – real and imagined – have shaped, and continue to shape, debates about jazz. Rhythm Changes: Jazz Cultures and European Identities (www.rhythmchanges.net) sought to question traditional ways of understanding and articulating jazz history and the concept of moving beyond borders – whether geographical or aesthetic – has played a key role in the project’s research strategy.  Borders can be multifaceted and fluid, from geographical boundaries, to disciplinary fields, there can be theoretical or institutional borders, which permeate discourses relating to the cultural, social, political, national and ethnic as well as artistic, performative, canonical, aesthetic, stylistic and genre-related understandings of jazz. Because of the music’s inherent hybridity, jazz provides an excellent lens through which such borders, and border-policing processes, can be questioned and analysed. The music is ideally placed to think about the dividing lines between, for instance, academia and journalism, popular and art music, ‘new jazz studies’ and ‘traditional musicology’, the sonic and the visual, and so forth.

Jazz Beyond Borders is a three day multi-disciplinary conference that brings together leading researchers across the arts and humanities and is the largest event of its kind world-wide. Based on our previous conferences (Amsterdam 2011 and Salford 2013), we expect well over 100 participants.  The Conference committee invites papers and panel proposals that feed into the Conference theme and is interested in featuring perspectives from a range of international contexts.  Although not restricted to specific themes, possible topics could include:

  • Exploring borders: framing, understanding and policing borders; transnational, transcultural, postcolonial, and global perspectives; jazz and its musical others; jazz beyond jazz (jazz as lifestyle from cooking to comedy); genre politics; “frontier” myths; reconfiguring gender, race, ethnicity, disability
  • Challenging binaries: questioning perceived antonyms such as Afrological/Eurological, composition/improvisation, professionals/amateurs, musicians/audiences, theory/practice
  • Jazz historiographies: exploring origins, mythologies, cultural memory, and the different constructions of jazz history
  • (Re-)Mediating jazz: evaluating jazz in film, advertising, literature, art, journalism, criticism
  • Jazz futures: questioning disciplinary boundaries; new directions for jazz research; changing status jazz studies within musicology

The Conference committee welcomes individual papers and proposals for panels and round table discussions.  For individual papers, abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted.  Panels and round table proposals should include a session overview, participant biographies and description of individual contributions.  Abstracts and proposals (as well as event queries) should be sent to Professor Walter van de Leur (W.vandeLeur@ahk.nl) by 1 March 2014.

Conference Committee

Walter van de Leur (Chair, Conservatory of Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam), Nicholas Gebhardt (Birmingham City University), George McKay (University of Salford), Loes Rusch (University of Amsterdam), Catherine Tackley (Open University), Tony Whyton (University of Salford)

Steven Feld, the late Guy Warren and afrifone inventor Nii Noi Nortey

Steven Feld, the late Guy Warren and afrifone inventor Nii Noi Nortey

Keynote speaker biographies

Steven Feld is a musician, filmmaker and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Music at the University of New Mexico. His books include Sound and Sentiment and Music Grooves (with Charles Keil). As a jazz trombonist he recorded and performed with Leadbelly Legacy Band, Live Action Brass Band, Tom Guralnick Trio, and Bonefied. Since 2004 he has been studying the spectral presence of jazz in West Africa, represented in a CD, DVD, and book project titled Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra. In addition to documentary work, the Accra project includes performing on ashiwa box bass with the Accra Trane Station trio, dedicated to points of contact between African idioms and the legacy of Coltrane”s later works. Connecting the ATS project to the contemporary Euro-Am jazz scene, ATS collaborated with the Amsterdam-based jazz flute/reed player Alex Coke on the CD Topographies of the Dark.

John Gennari is an American Studies-trained U.S. cultural historian and nonfiction writer with specializations in jazz and popular music studies, Italian American cultural studies, food studies, race and ethnic studies, and cultural criticism. He is the author of Blowin’ Hot and Cool: Jazz and Its Critics (University of Chicago Press, 2006), which won an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for Excellence in Music Criticism and the John Cawelti Award for the Best Book in American Culture. He is currently completing a book examining how practices of expressive ethnicity in music, film, sports, cooking, and eating reconfigure our understanding of Italian American culture. He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University, and the Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia. An active member of the American Studies Association since 1993, he chaired the association’s Gabriel Dissertation Prize committee in 2008, and served on the Romero Book Prize committee in 2010.

Rhythm Changes

This conference builds on the legacy of the Rhythm Changes: Jazz Cultures and European Identities (www.rhythmchanges.net) research project.  Rhythm Changes was initially funded as part of the Humanities in the European Research Area’s (HERA) first Joint Research programme which ran from 2010 – 2013.  The project team continues to develop networking opportunities and champion collaborative research into transnational jazz studies.

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