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Call for Papers: Southern Cultures Special Issue: Music and Protest

Thursday, December 7, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephanie Sturgis
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Southern Cultures encourages submissions from scholars, writers, musicians, and visual artists for our Music and Protest Issue to be published Fall 2018. We will be accepting submissions here for this special issue through December 1, 2017.

This call aims to gather work that documents and understands southern music’s relationships to protest and resistance, both historically and in its present moment, and in the voices of musicians, scholars, critics, audiences, visual artists, and activists, broadly defined. We understand southern music to exist across many genres, communities, and collaborations and seek to expand the conversation beyond the sometimes-limiting lenses of “traditional music” and “protest songs.” To that end, we are less interested in stereotypes, revisiting past debates, or fetishized music culture than we are in the interaction of peoples and cultures with the broader forces of political, social, historical, and economic change at work in the South.

Submissions can explore any topic or theme related to southern music and protest, with a special interest in pieces that seek new understandings of the region and its musics, identify current communities and concerns, and address its ongoing struggles for justice and expression. We welcome explorations of the region in the forms Southern Cultures publishes: scholarly articles, memoir, interviews, surveys, photo essays, and shorter feature essays.

Possible topics and questions to explore might include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • How have musicians and audiences in the American South aligned or unaligned their musics with their politics and ethics, both historically and today, within both formal and vernacular contexts? How has music addressed, rectified, or exacerbated oppressive situations over the course of southern history?
  • Is music inherently political or apolitical, and do musicians have political responsibilities or not? How do artists and listeners engage with southern politics and social justice through music beyond the confines of programmatic “protest music” with explicit political content? What other strategies of political engagement and action through music are possible and fruitful?
  • How are musicians responding, both within their art and beyond, to the current cultural and political climates of the South? Topics might include discourses related to Black Lives Matter; arguments about the removal of Confederate monuments; the recently increased visibility and violence of white nationalists in the South; HB2 and debates about gender and transgender rights; the acrimonious 2016 presidential election and its aftermath; immigration and the U.S.–Mexico border; and the military, national security, and the ongoing “War on Terror.”
  • As the South assumes an increasingly diverse and global identity, how is the music of (or about) recent immigrant, refugee, and transplanted communities engaging or disengaging with articulations of protest, social justice, and identity? How is the music and musical consumption of recent arrivals changing the textures of southern music?
  • How have new technologies and media—allowing for the increasingly rapid creation, sampling and editing, dissemination, and critique of music both new and old—changed the capacity, pace, and immediacy of musical protest and resistance in the South and beyond?

As we also publish digital content, we are able to feature select essays with video, audio, and interactive visual content. We encourage creativity in coordinating print and digital materials in submissions and ask that authors submit any potential digital materials with their essay or introduction/artist’s statement.

We encourage authors to gain familiarity with the tone, scope, and style of our journal before submitting. Those whose institutions subscribe to Project Muse can read past issues for free. To read our current issue, access our submission guidelines, or browse our content, please browse our website.


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