Sound System Culture To Be Toast Of UWI’ 8th Global Reggae Conference

Sound System Culture will be the toast of The Reggae Studies Unit of University of the West Indies upcoming 8th Global Reggae Conference, which is to be held during Reggae Month, February 2024, under the theme “A Century of Sound: Technology, Culture and Performance”.

The University recently issued a Call for Papers, ahead of the conference, which will be held between February 14 and 17 and which, according to the institution, comes “as part of a larger project on music, popular culture and Reggae Studies from the Institute of Caribbean Studies and the Reggae Studies Unit”. 

The conference will be held in association with the European Research Council (ERC)-funded research project, Sonic Street Technologies (SST), and the research group Sound System Outernational, which are both based at Goldsmiths, University of London.

“Over the last decade this has advanced the study of reggae and Jamaican popular culture and contributed to expanding scholarship and outreach through creative production, community engagement, research, experimentation, archive building, exhibitions and events,” the call for papers document noted.

“From the 1940s to present day, sound systems have rocked the world with word, sound and power. From Kingston’s streets to the world’s biggest festival stages, the Jamaican-born institution of the sound system has deeply influenced the way music is produced, performed, remixed and enjoyed all over the world. The 2024 edition of the Global Reggae Conference celebrates and investigates the culture and technology of Jamaica’s most famous musical instrument,” it added.

The University also notes that the triennial Global Reggae Conference is also extending its reach to engage academics within a wide field of scholastic orientations and practices for its eighth staging.

Additionally, it said the conference is targeting bringing together students, scholars, filmmakers, sound producers, researchers, writers, critics, music aficionados, and artists to share research findings, ideas and perspectives, as a means of celebrating of the cultural, technological and productive space created by the sound system, both locally and globally.

The institution also said that it welcomes proposals for academic papers, of which those selected will be peer-reviewed and published in themed volume.

Innovative presentations and displays made through uses of media, music and technology; sound system films and videos for screening as part of the Sound System Outernational # 10 film programme; and presentations interventions from musicians, artistes and students are also invited, it noted.

Thematic areas are on Culture, with sub-themes being: Social Media & Scenes of Sound; The Cultural Ecosystem of Sound; Gendered Dimensions of Sound System; Sound Systems and Musical Genres; Fashion, Style and Sound Systems; Sound Boys, Rude Boys and Aesthetics and Dancehall Aesthetics and the Arts.

In the area of “Global Reach”, the subthemes are: Sound System Diasporas; Sound Systems from Kingston to Birmingham; Sound System Cultures Around the World: Picos (Columbia), Aparelhagens, Radiolas, Paredões (Brazil) and Sonideros (Mexico); Trade and the Global Sound Industry and Sound System Festivals and Events.

In the area of Technology the subthemes are: The Recorded Format from Lacquer to Audio File; Sound, Videolight and the Moving Image; Sound, Medium and Message; Equipment Construction, Maintenance and Archiving and The Evolution of the Sound System Set.

The thematic areas also cover the area of Performance the sub-themes being: The Performance of Recorded Music; HiFis, Discos and Jugglers; Performance, Sound and Method; The DJ/DJAY Methods and Performance Techniques.

In the area of Politics, the sub-themes are: Noise Regulation and Control; Policing, Harassment and Criminalization; Recognition and the Value of Popular Sound Cultures; Institutional Support and Pushback; Music and Sound as Liberation as well as Autonomous Zones and DIY Aesthetics.

The final area, Legacies and Futures has as its sub-themes: Icons of Sound – Promoters, Impresarios and Maestros; Sound Systems and the Future of Musical Genres; Sound Systems and the Inner-City; Sound Professors, Dub Stations, Black Arks and Afro-Futurism and Sound System Futures.

The deadline for submission of abstracts and film synopses is October 30, 2023 while the deadline for submission of conference papers and films is December 1, 2023.

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