Memory, Power and Knowledge in African Music and Beyond

Conference 'Memory, Power and Knowledge in African Music and Beyond'

Date: June 10-13, 2015

Venue: Dhow Countries Music Academy, Zanzibar 

Language: English


This conference seeks to explore, both from historical and contemporary perspectives, the nexus between memory, power, and knowledge in the music of Africa and its various diasporas. These explorations encompass the history and politics of sound archiving and scholarly practices as much as intersections of memory, power, and knowledge in musical performance itself. The contexts within which we would like to examine this broader field include, but are not limited to, the realms of popular culture, politics, religion, as well as education. Throughout history, music has been a crucial means in the representation of power and status as well as the negotiation of individual and collective identities. As a repository of knowledge, musical practice often functions as a form of social memory, which we understand not as a static entity but as a dynamic field within shifting power relations on both the local and translocal level. Media technology has, over more than a century now, played an important role in the reconfiguration of this nexus, and particularly the rise of electronic media in recent years has changed and accelerated its dynamics. Finally, our own engagement as scholars is deeply implicated in the intersection of memory, power, and knowledge, compelling us to constantly question our canons and to reflect on the implications of academic research.

The conference wants to provide a forum for discussions on these and related issues in a decidedly transdisciplinary setting, serving as a conclusion to the research project 'The Formation and Transformation of Musical Archives in West African Societies' that has been funded by the Volkswagen Foundation since 2009. In order to embed the focus on music in Africa into a wider perspective, we also seek contributions that reference other locales as well as other cultural practices within the thematic triangle of memory, power, and knowledge.


If you wish to participate as an auditor in the conference, please contact Michael Fuhr (michael.fuhr[at]hmtm-hannover[dot]de).

Conference Program (PDF)

Conference Timetable (PDF)

Conference Poster (PDF)



Learn more about the research project 'The Formation and Transformation of Musical Archives in West African Societies'.