Rhythm Changes: Jazz and National Identities

Call for Papers

Rhythm Changes: Jazz and National Identities

2-4 September 2011, Amsterdam

An international conference hosted by the Rhythm Changes research project and the Conservatory of Amsterdam.


Keynote Speakers

Professor Bruce Johnson (Universities of Macquarie, Turku and Glasgow)

Professor Ronald Radano (University of Wisconsin-Madison)


Conference outline

Throughout its history, jazz has played an important part in discourses about national identity, politics and cultural value; indeed, the music continues to play a complex role in the cultural life of nations worldwide. Within this context, jazz is an ideal cultural form from which to explore a number of critical questions bound up with national identity, from the development of national sounds and ensembles 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 has developed in a range of national settings through different influences and interactions, so is ideally placed to explore wider issues surrounding identity and inheritance, enabling unique perspectives on how culture is exchanged, adopted and transformed.


Rhythm Changes is a three day multi-disciplinary conference that brings together leading researchers in the fields of jazz studies, media and cultural studies.  The Conference committee invites papers and panel proposals that feed 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:

• National identity and jazz

• Trans-national or post-national jazz sounds

• Jazz nationalism and nationalistic movements

• The musical McDonalds?  Jazz and the politics of globalisation

• Migration and trans-cultural exchange

• Jazz as quintessentially American music

• Media dissemination and the spread of jazz culture

• Jazz as classical, folk or popular music

• Venues, festivals and the dynamics of culture

• Jazz and the cold war

• Exploring sonic identities (African American, the Nordic Tone, South African jazz)

• Jazz and ‘frontier’ myths

• National jazz criticism

• Jazz in urban and rural spaces

• Interrogating the ‘Afrological’ and ‘Eurological’

• Jazz racisms, censorship and propaganda

• Cultural memory and jazz

• National ensembles and/or trans-national collectives

• Postcolonial settings for jazz

• Origins, mythology and the construction of jazz history

• Modernism, postmodernism and jazz

The Conference committee welcomes individual papers and proposals for panels and round table discussions.  For individual papers, abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted.  Panels and round table 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 Walter van de Leur (W.vandeLeur@uva.nl) by 25 February 2011.


Conference Committee

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


Keynote speaker biographies


Professor Bruce Johnson

Bruce Johnson’s work focuses on the history of the modern era as an acoustic phenomenon: the role of sound in the confrontations which generated modernity as mapped through such demarcations as class, gender, nation state and race.  Johnson’s full career publication list runs to nearly 400 items, from encyclopedia entries to major reference works including The Oxford Companion to Australian Jazz (Nominated “Outstanding Academic Book. 1988-89” by the academic review Choice), and The Inaudible Music: Jazz, Gender and Australian Modernity (Currency 2000).


Professor Ronald Radano

Ronald Radano’s primary work is that of an Americanist with special interests in cultural theory, race, globalization, popular music and the history of North American black music. He is author and editor of three books, New Musical Figurations: Anthony Braxton’s Cultural Critique (1993), Music and Racial Imagination (2000; co-edited with Philip V. Bohlman) and Lying up a Nation: Race and Black Music (2003), all published by the University of Chicago Press.


Rhythm Changes

This conference forms part of the Rhythm Changes: Jazz Cultures and European Identities (www.rhythmchanges.net) 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, Dr Tony Whyton t.whyton@salford.ac.uk


Rhythm Changes is financially supported by the HERA Joint Research Programme (www.heranet.info) 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.