CfP: Musical Freespace – Towards a radical politics of musical spaces and musical citizenship

CfP: MUSICAL FREESPACE: Towards a radical politics of musical spaces and musical citizenship
Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 September 2018 in Venice, Italy.

FOLLOW-ON EVENTS: Venice and Chioggia – Friday 14 September, Saturday 15 and
Sunday 16 September 2018

The 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale has the concept of “Freespace” as its principal theme.

We invite musicologists, architects, urbanists and migration activists to join us in Venice for a “fringe” conference running alongside the Biennale. Our intention is to add to the “Freespace” agenda important questions of musical citizenship, and a radical politics of musical spaces, in relation to music, song and dance. We feel that the matter is pressing at a time when, all across the world, music, song and dance are increasingly constrained by the interests of power and commerce.

The organisers of this conference have been engaged in ongoing work in the conjoined fields of musical citizenship and activism – in particular as regards music in the lives of refugees and migrants. We see this as a particular and pressing issue. Music, song and dance are important areas of empowerment of refugees and migrants, and a fundamental bedrock of personhood. We would argue for music, song and dance to be recognised officially as a basic human right. And therefore that there should be provision of planned and serviced spaces for music, song and dance for migrants and refugees in all situations in which they find themselves, however temporary.

As regards the broader picture: in villages, towns and cities, as the years pass, more and more spaces are lost for non-commercial music, song and dance. Municipal spaces face budget cuts, university spaces are monetised, churches close, and taverns give way to coffee culture. By way of shorthand, you can’t sing in a Starbucks. All music practitioners recognise this as a crisis, and the time has come to reverse the tide, with new and imaginative initiatives.

All of this raises many questions. How, and by whom, are such spaces to be opened up, maintained, defended, rendered sustainable? How and by whom are they to be heard? Integrated within, or interruptive of, neighbourhoods, local soundscapes, educational systems? Archived, networked, circulated beyond? Through what agencies, technologies, mediations? And how to deal with issues of rights, royalties and remunerations arising in the context of performance?

We welcome papers that address these issues, from both a practical and a theoretical point of view. We also welcome reflection on existing activism. Interventions in this area are often non-institutional acts of individual witnessing and personal commitment. Such acts – as well as the more visible, institutionalised, and better-documented work of NGOs – have histories from which we can learn and on which we can build.

A longer-term aim of our conference will be to consider the production of a manifesto for musical freespace, prompted in part by the crisis of urban music making, and in part by the migration and refugee crises of our time.

Please note that, as part of the conference’s follow-on programme, we shall spend a day visiting the Architecture Biennale.

Conference organisers:

Fulvia Caruso [University of Pavia]
Ed Emery [SOAS, London]
Martin Stokes [King’s College, London]

Proposals for papers should include:

[a] Title of paper

[b] Name and institution (if any) of proposer

[c] Abstract of proposed paper [Maximum 200 words]

[d] Brief CV of proposer of paper [Maximum 100 words]

Deadline for proposals: 15 March 2018. Notification of acceptance of papers: 15 April 2018

Proposals and enquiries should be directed to: The official language of the conference will be English.

Where possible we would like to have a draft of final papers two weeks before the conference, for pre-circulation to conference participants.

There is no registration charge for speakers presenting at the conference. A small attendance fee will be charged to other attendees.