Call for Chapters: "The Politics of Performance: National Instruments in Global Perspective"

deadline for submissions: 
December 1, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Christopher L. Ballengee

Call for contributions for an edited volume:


The Politics of Performance: National Instruments in Global Perspective


Edited by

Christopher L. Ballengee (John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin)

Jack Forbes (Milwaukee Area Technical College)


In many places around the world, people have chosen—democratically or otherwise—a single musical instrument as a symbol of cultural or national belonging. Such a process is often fraught with political debates, especially in modern nation-states whose histories are bound up in the intertwined legacies of colonization, forced labor, and displacement of indigenous peoples. In such cases, the valorization of a single musical instrument—and, by implication, the performers most directly associated with it—frequently reflects larger and more enduring political struggles between and among social groups within these postcolonial multicultural societies.


In this volume, we explore the concept of national instruments and examine the socio-political processes that surround them. We seek case studies and comparative essays that center on, but are not limited to, the following key questions:


  • When and how does a musical instrument become a national instrument? A national symbol?

  • How are national instruments chosen? And who does the choosing?

  • How is the selection and promotion of national instruments reflected in other social, cultural, and political processes?

  • What are the economic impacts of designating a national instrument?

  • What happens to instruments (and their nominators) proposed as national instruments that ultimately are not selected?

  • How are national instruments envisioned as emblematic of specific cultures or communities? And how do these associations play out in debates about music and culture in public spaces?

  • How does the elevation of an instrument to national symbol affect musical practice?

  • What are the sonic dimensions of sentiments surrounding national instruments?

  • Are any particular aspects of sound, image, or performance emphasized in the selection and valorization of national instruments?


Academics from all disciplines writing about any region of the world or historical period are invited to submit essays for consideration. We are particularly interested in perspectives written by and about the Global South, but all authors and topics will receive full consideration for inclusion in the project. Essays should be between 6000-8000 words (inclusive of notes and bibliography).


Submission should be sent to by December 1, 2023. Attachments should include the full essay and a current CV.