Beyond Memory and Reconciliation: Music, Conflict and Social Manipulation in Post-Conflict Contexts

British Forum for Ethnomusicology One-Day Conference

3rd November 2018 - Keele University, Staffordshire




Call for Papers

Beyond Memory and Reconciliation:
Music, Conflict and Social Manipulation in Post-Conflict Contexts

Where words fail and the state does not help, music can play many roles, including in acknowledging trauma, promoting understanding of the roots of conflict, negotiating social guilt, facilitating public debate, contributing to reconciliation, expressing a collective sense of cultural survival, and preserving social memory (Fast and Pegley 2012; O’Connell and Castelo-Branco 2010, Ritter and Daughtry 2007; Urbain 2008). It can also be a painful reminder of a violent past, and thus a site of tension between the competing desires to remember and to forget. How, when, and why do these roles develop? How has music been used to understand, remember and transform social conflict?

In ethnomusicology and related disciplines, scholars have tended to focus on processes of memory and reconciliation and the role that music serves to process recent conflict. However, less attention has been paid to post-conflict mechanisms of remembrance, nostalgia, and cultural survival in post-memory/reconciliation contexts. In some cases governments, NGOs and popular culture have joined forces to create spaces to discuss the aftermath of social conflict, but what happens when complacency sets in? How are cultures revived and drawn together (or apart)? How is guilt negotiated? Music can be a powerful tool in the negotiation of difference and the discussion of the roots of conflicts (Gilroy 2005, Brinner 2009, Abbi-Ezzi 2008, Montero-Diaz 2016). It can also be used to manipulate individuals into taking sides in a conflict; believing the conflict is resolved; enhancing nationalist behaviour, or even triggering more conflict (Johnson and Cloonan 2009).

This one-day conference seeks to bring together voices from various theoretical, ethnographic, historical, and geographical perspectives to understand how music is bound up with reassertions of the national and social in post-conflict contexts.

The programme committee welcomes submissions from any discipline that address the following or related areas:

  • The use of music by governments and institutions to promote memory/reconciliation, to enhance national self-esteem, to steer public discourse towards optimistic post-conflict ideals or to exacerbate conflict.

  • The links between music and politics when addressing memory and reconciliation after a conflict.

  • The relationship between music, conflict and social manipulation.

  • The role of music in the (re)negotiation of guilt, social role, class, and race in post-conflict contexts.

  • Music and the reformulation of nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and nation building and branding post-conflict.

We invite proposals for individual papers (20 minutes + 10 minutes questions) and for panels of three related papers (90 minutes in total including questions).

We are delighted to announce our keynote panel with Prof. Rachel Beckles Willson, Prof. John O’Connell and Dr. Felicity Laurence.

They will each give a keynote presentation, and as a panel engage in dialogue with participants on the conference themes.

Abstracts for individual papers should be no more than 300 words. For panels, send three abstracts of no more than 300 words each, as well as a panel description of no more than 100 words.
Abstracts should be sent to by 5pm on Monday 25th June. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out in July.


Student Bursaries

The BFE is keen to provide financial help for student members to assist with their attendance at the 2018 BFE One-day Conference in Keele. To this end, the BFE has created a small bursary fund that will provide a £40 contribution towards travel to the conference and conference fee for up to ten successful applicants. Applicants must be BFE members in good standing, and will need to send a short statement of interest that includes the reason for their application.

Prospective presenters can apply for bursaries when submitting an abstract, and applications should be sent to the BFE conference email address: In the event of a greater number of applications being received than there are bursaries available, student presenters will be prioritized.

Deadline for non-presenter submissions is Friday 1st September 2018, and bursary award winners will be notified in early October.

More information:


Call for papers deadline: 
25 Jun 2018
Conference dates: 
3 Nov 2018
University of Keele
Conference web site: