Special issue on music of South Africa and the United States
from an international, transnational, and/or comparative perspective and seeks to understand each country in relation to the other. For a special issue on music, we are seeking essays that look at the way songs, performers, performance styles, fans, and other aspects of musical culture add to our understanding of the United States and South Africa and to cultural flows between two dating from collaborations (jam session) between American merchant shipmen and urban South Africans in the nineteenth century. We will also consider submissions concerned with Southern Africa and parts of the Americas relevant to the special issue.
Topics might include (but are not limited to):
collaboration: for example thinking about Paul Simon's Graceland alongside Hugh Masekela's performances at SNCC fundraisers organized by Harry Belafonte bring us to a new understanding of transnational collaboration in the face of urgent human rights crises
borrowing and adaptation: how have cinematic and other recording mediums shaped practices of adaptation and citation? How might South African films from the early 1950s featuring all-black revues quoting American swing tunes be thought of in a continuum with Julie Taymor's and the Disney film's versions of The Lion King.
globalization: What might account for the popularity of, say, American country and Western music in South Africa? Or the American television commercials featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo singing the praises of such American commodities as Lifesavers. Might we borrow Appadurai's formulations of globalization to think about "musico-scapes" and how would we characterize these?
race: is music racially coded in similar ways in the United States and in South Africa? Has this shifted in the post apartheid era? One interesting angle might be a comparison of kwaito and forms of rap.
gender: how has gender functioned in the circulations of music marked as originating in these nations, and how do some of the masculinist tropes of nationalism determine and/or flounder on the political uses music has been put to. How do such 'starlet' figures as Dolly Rathebe and later Brenda Fassie construct identity along American models of feminitity and are American feminist rejections of such models equally available to South Africans in the contemporary moment? What can we learn from the similar erasure of female instrumentalists from imagery and historical narratives of popular music in South Africa and in the United States.
high vs. low culture(s): are there specific pedagogies and forms of transmission that attach to "high" bs. "low" culture? How do forms such as opera signify differently in South Africa (with, say South African College of Music performances of Mozart in Cape Town or U-Karmen eKhayalitsha on film along side Metropolitan Opera productions of Carmen starring black divas such as Denyse Graves or the 1954 film adaptation Carmen Jones)
folk music(s): are the legacies of the Smithsonian Folkways recordings and similar projects related to the work of Hugh Tracey and the International Library of African Music? What is the status of folk music archives in relation to ongoing reinvention and practices of the "folk"? What is specific about the meaning/valence of folk music in these locations?
consumption and commodification: how do adjunctive commodities -- concert t-shirts, album covers, posters etc.-- articulate the meanings and specifics of music as commodity, in global and local contexts?
cybercultures: how have the increasingly rapid circulations of music across geographic space changed the relations between South African and American musics? Given that some South Africans have access to high speed connections and multiple electronic resources, are collaborations increasing? What is the role of electronic publications like www.chimurenga.com or www.jazztimes.com in facilitating music making practices and exchanges?
live performance vs. recordings: are similar questions of recording rights and royalties at play in music-making on both sides of the Atlantic? How have the uses to which recordings have been put on radio distinguished the role of music in the public sphere? For example how might we compare the impact Elvis's white-coded rock and roll and/or Motown's race records on American radio listeners and record purchasers in tandem with the language-specific Bantu Radio stations of the apartheid era. What are the ironies of Bantu Radio in the post-apartheid era being used to circulate popular youth music enacting the values of youth under the "new dispensation". What do we learn about transnational dynamics from the reception of live performances such as Jay-Z's 2006 appearance in South Africa
protest music(s): how do memories of protest music and memorializations of civil and human rights struggles shape the way protest musics are recorded and circulated in our contemporary moment? The film Amandla: A revolution in Four Part Harmony bears in common many remarkable elements with documentaries about the late Odessa, Pete Seegers' collaborator Dorothy Cotton, and others. Historical documentaries are also, however, almost invariably accompanied by sound-tracks that create a specific and bounded sonic backdrop for the periods they cover. What are the implications of sampling only certain types of music, and certain types of protest music in imagining post-apartheid, post-Civil-Rights, and (dubiously) post-racial eras?
Contributions should generally be 7,500 to 10,000 words, including footnotes, references, tables and figures, although slightly longer articles may be considered. Send submissions addressed to Barbara Ching and Tsitsi Jaji to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 1, 2010.