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JUNE 26 - 30, 2023


Popular Music in Crisis

It is not hyperbolic to claim that crisis characterizes the state of the world in the 2020s. The COVID-19 virus still rages across the globe. In many countries, this public health crisis intersects with a crisis of political legitimacy caused by increased polarization and the rise of right-wing populism. The refusal of many to vaccinate themselves against COVID-19 has led to the continuing spread of the disease. Elsewhere, similar dynamics are exacerbated by lack of effective vaccines, little-to-no capacity to make them, and the hesitancy of wealthier countries to distribute vaccines beyond their national borders. An ever smaller number of people control most of the world’s wealth as the gap between the wealthy and the poor has become a seemingly unbridgeable chasm. The ongoing crisis of climate change manifests in many ways: increasingly dangerous storms, displaced populations, out-of-control fires, financial and material devastation, rising sea levels, and more, unfortunately exacerbated by politics and the destructive impact of late capitalism. Wars, civil and otherwise, have also increased the numbers of migrants whose home countries are devastated but who are not welcomed elsewhere, leading to a crisis of the displaced and, with the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine compounding continued struggles in Afghanistan, Israel-Palestine, Syria, and many other regions, heightened tension between global powers that at times evokes the Cold War. The rise of neo-fascism has accompanied the return of dangerous nationalisms that attempt to disenfranchise certain members of society, often by race, gender, and sexuality, while reinforcing existing social and racial constructions. Other crises abound, as white supremacy rises again in North America and Europe, women’s rights are under attack in various repressive regimes across the globe, and we learn of human rights abuses perpetrated during military crises and civil unrest.

Music is often implicated in these crises, and it also has crises of its own in terms of its production, distribution, and consumption - thus the double meaning of the conference theme. Artificial intelligence offers new creative possibilities for music composition and arrangement, but when combined with unbridled capitalism threatens to make musicians obsolete by replacing them with AI-generated musical algorithms or denying them their livelihoods with paltry payouts from streaming services. The ontological status of popular music is indeed under threat, if not already in crisis. Music scenes globally are struggling to recover from COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, with continued uncertainty as new variants emerge. But COVID-19 has also reminded us of the importance of music and demonstrated the resilience of musicians. Music has been central to the social movements—both left and right—that have emerged in response to crises such as #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, the effort to defend the safety and personhood of LGBTQIA communities, and the continued fight for Indigenous rights in numerous countries. Music is thus central worldwide to demands for change, to addressing the structural inequities that continue to affect so many communities and disproportionate impacts of the public health crisis, and to provide solace during a time when many individuals have experienced heightened mental and physical health challenges. Conversely, popular music is also deployed skillfully by the movements and power structures that oppose and stifle these efforts. This conference will explore how popular music shapes and has been shaped by these ongoing global crises.

The twenty-second International Association for the Study of Popular Music conference, which will also serve as the annual meeting of IASPM-US, will address the theme of popular music’s role within various sites of crisis, from the most global to the most individual levels, historically and in the present-day.

Registration information is coming soon. We look forward to seeing you in Minneapolis!

Covid 19 Information

We are aware of the global pandemic’s impact across the world and take issues of safety seriously. Our plan is to have a conference that is predominantly in person, but with the option for remote participation, and we hope that the threat posed by Covid will have diminished significantly by the time of the conference. We will be monitoring the situation closely and will advise members accordingly.

Virtual Presentations

We are aware of the environmental impact of global travel as well as a plethora of other accessibility issues involved with travel and in-person conference attendance, especially in light of the subject of the conference. We hope that moving some of the conference online will be one way of addressing these issues. Circumstances surrounding the current pandemic have also made virtual research sharing more necessary. We are preparing so that at least some portions of the conference can take place online and interested parties may be able to attend the conference virtually. More information will be available soon.

Program Committee

      Steve Waksman, chair

      Andres Amado

      Christine Feldman-Barrett

      Emily Gale

      Martin Lussier

      Áine Mangaoang

      Julio Mendivil

      Toshiyuki Ohwada

      Elliott Powell

      Rosa Reitsamer

      Catherine Rudent

      Christi Jay Wells

Local Arrangements Committee

      Norma Coates, co-chair

      Andrew Mall, co-chair

      Alyssa Barna

      Jay Beck

      Andy Flory

      Mark Pedelty

      Matt Sumera

      Suzanne Wint

International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM-US) © 2023

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