Music around the Atlantic Rim

"Music around the Atlantic Rim”

Joint conference hosted by


Keynote speaker: Bob White (University of Montreal)
"Critical Encounters in the Black Atlantic"

Saturday 19th October, 2013

in association with


This conference is free-of-charge, but registration is essential.
Please email to reserve your place, as capacity is limited.

BFE One-Day Conference 2013 Programme

Conference Committee:
Amanda Villepastour (Cardiff University), Catherine Tackley (The Open University), Graeme Milne (University of Liverpool), John Morgan O'Connell (Cardiff University)

This conference has been timed to precede WOMEX, which takes place in Cardiff from 23-27 October 2013.


Theme: Music around the Atlantic Rim”

This conference will consider the relocation of peoples and exchanges of culture, music and ideas in relation to seafaring. We seek new approaches and theoretical frameworks for the circulation and exchange of ideas and materials related to music around the Atlantic rim specifically, and more generally, in trans-oceanic context and around large bodies of water. We invite innovative research about multi-directional movements of musicians, musical artefacts (including instruments and recordings), repertoires and ideas within populations of free and forced migrants, seafarers, and other travellers. Research about music making on ships and in ports is particularly welcome. We encourage an interrogation of existing theories of diaspora and call for new models of enquiry in a changing Atlantic world. Building on representations and critiques of “the Black Atlantic” and proposing new analytical models, this conference will also include research about European forms that traverse the Atlantic but do not usually default to the transatlantic rubric. In particular, we invite work on the “Green Atlantic”: the circa-Atlantic emigration of Celtic peoples and musics, as well as immigration patterns into Celtic sites. As well as inviting new research on past triangulated movements of people between Europe, Africa and the Americas, we seek fresh research about contemporary patterns of relocation and exchange due to changing political, economic and technological formations.


Sub-themes include:

  • Music in ports and ships. Prior to the mid-twentieth century, all transmission of musical cultures across oceans required ships, and seaports were the gateways for all intercontinental migration and mobility. What have been the implications of these modes of travel and dissemination? How did ocean journeys change and create music? How did multinational and transient seaport communities develop their musical identities?
  • Music in and around bodies of water. As well as being historical sites of forced migrations, international port towns/cities (such as Cardiff) invite both immigrant and transitory populations, and hence become dynamic and fertile musical hubs. What is the difference between a region defined by water, and one defined by land, and how does this shape the formation of musical communities? What kinds of patterns and issues emerge from geographical areas defined by oceans?
  • Popular music around the Atlantic. Does the movement of popular music products around the Atlantic differ substantially from the movements of people? While some musical forms emanate from sites of dense immigrant communities, does popular music transcend the movements of people? If so, does this render many theories of music in diaspora obsolete? What other patterns of musical production and consumption are emerging around the Atlantic?
  • The cyber Atlantic. Social networking increasingly determines the formation of musical communities throughout the world. With millions of sites (e.g. YouTube, My Space, Facebook) organised around music, incalculable exchanges of ideas, knowledge and sounds take place every second. Is the Atlantic imagined differently compared to other sources on these sites? Or is the Atlantic imagined at all by a new generation of musicians and audiences in the digital age?
  • Historiographical studies of transatlantic musical movements and forms. Papers critiquing past transatlantic scholarship and re-evaluating taken-for-granted historical research about transatlantic musical communities and forms are invited. New studies employing fresh theories and incorporating linguistic approaches, religious studies, musical analysis, and archival and ethnographic research are particularly welcome.
  • Beyond diaspora. How far have we come since BFE’s examination of diaspora in 1997 and 2005? As we move deeper into a globalised, digitised world, how useful are notions of diaspora when theorising music around the Atlantic rim today? As musical products and ideas traverse a historically race-and class-divided Atlantic, do past theories such as Gilroy’s expansion of Du Bois’s concept of “double consciousness” continue to be relevant? What theories may be more suited to the complex patterns of movement (both past and present) of musicians, music and musical artefacts?
Call for papers deadline: 
21 Jun 2013
Conference dates: 
19 Oct 2013
Cardiff University
Conference contact names: 
Amanda Villepastour
Conference contact emails: