Black British Music: Past, Present and Futures Symposium

deadline for submissions: 
May 20, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
British Library and Black Music Research Unit

Black British Music: Past, Present and Futures is an interdisciplinary symposium that reflects on the meaning, histories and legacies of Black British music. The symposium forms part of a broader partnership project between the British Library and the University of Westminster’s Black Music Research Unit (BMRU). Culminating in the first major exhibition on Black British Music, Beyond the Bassline: 500 years of Black British Music, the partnership aims to research and curate national collections relating to Black musical experiences in Britain in a way that engages with broader conversations on British popular culture and Black histories.

Call for Papers

This symposium invites the submission of a diverse range of conference papers and facilitated discussions that critically examine the meaning, histories, and legacies of Black British music, both within the UK and globally. The format will include a mixture of short lightning talks as well as panel discussions focused on the music industry and broader cultural implications.We welcome submissions that engages with the following questions and themes:

Defining and Interrogating the Concept of "Black British Music"
•       What is the meaning and significance of the term "Black British Music"? Is it a useful or limiting categorization?
•       How does the concept of "Black British Music" intersect with issues of race, identity, and cultural representation in Britain?
•       What are the historical roots and legacies of Black British Music, and how have they shaped contemporary British culture?

Representation, Curation, and Archiving of Black British Music
•       What role should national institutions, such as the British Library, play in preserving and promoting Black British Music?
•       How can archives and exhibitions effectively represent the diverse experiences and contributions of Black British musicians and creatives?
•       What challenges or limitations exist in curating and documenting Black British Music, and how can they be addressed?

Exploring the Intersections of Black British Music
•       How does Black British Music intersect with issues of technology, copyright, education, heritage, class, and gender?
•       What are the social, political, and cultural implications of these intersections, and how do they shape the production, dissemination, and reception of Black British Music?
•       How can these intersections be further explored and addressed in research, education, and industry practices?

Gender and Black British Music
•       How have gender dynamics and gender representations shaped the creation, performance, and reception of Black British Music?
•       What are the experiences and contributions of women and non-binary artists, producers, and industry professionals in Black British Music?
•       How can issues of gender equity, inclusivity, and intersectionality be addressed within the context of Black British Music?
•       What are the intersections between gender, race, and class in the narratives and discourses surrounding Black British Music?

The Future of Black British Music
•       What are the emerging trends, challenges, and opportunities for Black British Music in the contemporary and future landscape?
•       How can the legacies and contributions of Black British Music be sustained and advanced in the face of globalization, commercialization, and technological disruptions?
•       What roles can different stakeholders (artists, educators, curators, policymakers, etc.) play in shaping the future of Black British Music?

We welcome submissions from those who might not be affiliated with a University or other organisations/institutions. Please use the following as a guide, and feel free to suggest your own.

Please submit all abstracts (250 words) with accompanying bio (up to 100 words) and affiliation (if any) by May 20th, 2024, to Hussein Boon at [University of Westminster, United Kingdom] with the subject heading “Proposal- Annual Black Music Research Symposium – Beyond The Bassline”. Presentations are 10 minutes + panel discussion and audience Q&A. You can also submit your proposal using the following forms link:

More information

Conference Information:
The symposium is scheduled to be an in-person event at the British Library in London on 12th July 2024. Tickets will be administered by The British Library.

Contact Info:
Hussein Boon at University of Westminster, United Kingdom.

Contact Email: