Rethinking Jazz Cultures

Call for Papers

Rhythm Changes II: Rethinking Jazz Cultures

11-14 April 2013, Media City UK/University of Salford

An international conference hosted by the Rhythm Changes research project at the University of Salford.

Keynote Speakers

E. Taylor Atkins, Northern Illinois University

David Ake, University of Nevada, Reno

Conference outline

‘From its beginnings, jazz has presented a somewhat contradictory social world: Jazz musicians have worked diligently to tear down old boundaries, but they have just as resolutely constructed new ones; jazz provided one of the first locations of successful interracial cooperation in America, yet it has also served to perpetuate negative stereotypes and to incite racial unrest.’  David Ake, Jazz Cultures, 2

‘Practically all jazz discourse rests on the premise of American exceptionalism, the dogmatic conviction that “democracy, individualism, and social mobility, civil society, free enterprise, ingenuity and inventiveness, and material well-being” are peculiarly American traits.  Rather than viewing frontier expansion, settler colonialism, slavery, immigration, industrialization, and cultural hybridization as transnational processes, many assume they are uniquely American, denying possible analogies to Australia, Brazil, Russia, and elsewhere.’   E. Taylor Atkins, Jazz Planet, xiii

Rethinking Jazz Cultures provides an opportunity to explore a number of critical questions bound up with jazz and the dynamics of culture, from Americanisation to the politics of migration and race, from the impact of globalisation and the hybridisation of musical styles to the creation of social institutions and distinct communities, from jazz’s shifting aesthetic status from popular to canonical ‘art’ music.  Jazz continues to play a complex role in the cultural life of nations worldwide, shaping scenes, constructing communities and cultural values; the music feeds into historical narratives that are marked by conflict and contradiction but the role the music plays in everyday life is rarely understood.  Whilst jazz has developed in a range of national settings through different influences and interactions, as evidenced in the first Rhythm Changes Conference in Amsterdam 2011, the music is also a transgressor of the idea of nation.  ‘Rethinking Jazz Cultures’, therefore, aims to explore wider issues surrounding identity and inheritance, enabling unique perspectives on how culture is exchanged, adopted and transformed.

Rethinking Jazz Cultures is a three day multi-disciplinary conference that brings together leading researchers in the fields of jazz studies, media and cultural studies, history and American studies.  The event will take place at the University of Salford’s prestigious new building at Media City UK, Salford Quays, commencing with a reception on Thursday 11 April 2013.  The Conference committee invites papers and panel proposals that feed directly into the Conference theme and is interested in featuring perspectives from a range of international contexts.  Although not restricted to specific themes, possible topics could include:

  • Jazz, Americanisation and the politics of globalisation
  • Sonic cultural identities (African American, the Nordic Tone, South African jazz etc.)
  • Jazz cosmopolitanism
  • Migration and trans-cultural exchange
  • Jazz scenes, contexts and places
  • Sub-cultural practices
  • Genre boundaries and hybridity
  • Trans-national or post-national jazz sounds
  • Postcolonial settings for jazz
  • Jazz collectives and communities
  • Media dissemination and the spread of jazz culture
  • Venues, festivals and the dynamics of culture
  • Jazz, censorship and political struggle
  • Jazz in urban and rural spaces
  • Jazz traditions
  • Cultural politics of jazz
  • Cultural memory and jazz
  • Revising jazz history

The Conference committee welcomes individual papers and proposals for panels and roundtable discussions.  For individual papers, abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted.  Panels and roundtable proposals should include a session overview, participant biographies and description of individual contributions.  Abstracts and proposals (as well as event queries) should be sent to Professor Tony Whyton ( by 5 November 2012.

Further event details will be published on the Rhythm Changes website over the coming weeks.  Visit:

Keynote speaker biographies

E. Taylor Atkins is Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of History at Northern Illinois University, USA. He is the author of Primitive Selves: Koreana in the Japanese Colonial Gaze, 1910-1945 (University of California Press, 2010) and Blue Nippon: Authenticating Jazz in Japan (Duke University Press, 2001; winner of the 2003 John Whitney Hall Prize), and editor of Jazz Planet (University Press of Mississippi, 2003). In addition to the “Popular Culture” chapter in A Companion to Japanese History (ed. William Tsutsui, Blackwell, 2007), he has published articles in Journal of Asian Studies, American Music, positions, and Japanese Studies.

David Ake is Director of the School of the Arts at the University of Nevada, Reno (USA).  His publications include Jazz Cultures (2002), Jazz Matters: Sound, Place, and Time since Bebop (2010) and the essay collection Jazz/Not Jazz: The Music and Its Boundaries (co-edited with Charles Hiroshi Garrett and Daniel Goldmark, 2012), all for the University of California Press. An active pianist and composer, Ake has performed and recorded alongside many of today’s outstanding improvisers.

Conference Committee

Nicholas Gebhardt (University of Lancaster), George McKay (University of Salford), Tom Sykes (University of Salford), Walter van de Leur (University of Amsterdam), and Tony Whyton (University of Salford).

Rhythm Changes

This conference forms part of the Rhythm Changes: Jazz Cultures and European Identities ( research project.  Rhythm Changes is a three year research project which examines the inherited traditions and practices of European jazz cultures.  The project has been funded as part of the Humanities in the European Research Area’s (HERA) theme, ‘Cultural Dynamics: Inheritance and Identity’, a joint research programme funded by 13 national funding agencies to ‘create collaborative, trans-national research opportunities that will derive new insights from humanities research in order to address major social, cultural, and political challenges facing Europe.’  For further information on the Rhythm Changes project, please contact the Project Leader, Professor Tony Whyton

Rhythm Changes is financially supported by the HERA Joint Research Programme ( which is co-funded by AHRC, AKA, DASTI, ETF, FNR, FWF, HAZU, IRCHSS, MHEST, NWO, RANNIS, RCN, VR and The European Community FP7 2007-2013, under the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities programme.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.