CfP: Musical Freespace, 12/13 September 2018, Venedig

MUSICAL FREESPACE: Towards a radical politics of musical spaces
and musical citizenship


CONFERENCE: Venice – Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 September 2018

FOLLOW-ON EVENTS: Venice and Chioggia – Friday 14 September, Saturday 15 and
Sunday 16 September 2018


The 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale has the concept of „Freespace“ as its
principal theme.

  • We invite musicologists, architects, urbanists and migration activists to
    join us in Venice for a „fringe“ conference running alongside the Biennale.
    Our intention is to add to the „Freespace“ agenda important questions of
    musical citizenship, and a radical politics of musical spaces, in relation
    to music, song and dance. We feel that the matter is pressing at a time
    when, all across the world, music, song and dance are increasingly
    constrained by the interests of power and commerce.

  • The organisers of this conference have been engaged in ongoing work in the
    conjoined fields of musical citizenship and activism – in particular as
    regards music in the lives of refugees and migrants. We see this as a
    particular and pressing issue. Music, song and dance are important areas of
    empowerment of refugees and migrants, and a fundamental bedrock of
    personhood. We would argue for music, song and dance to be recognised
    officially as a basic human right. And therefore that there should be
    provision of planned and serviced spaces for music, song and dance for
    migrants and refugees in all situations in which they find themselves,
    however temporary.

  • As regards the broader picture: in villages, towns and cities, as the years
    pass, more and more spaces are lost for non-commercial music, song and
    dance. Municipal spaces face budget cuts, university spaces are monetised,
    churches close, and taverns give way to coffee culture. By way of shorthand,
    you can’t sing in a Starbucks. All music practitioners recognise this as a
    crisis, and the time has come to reverse the tide, with new and imaginative

  • All of this raises many questions. How, and by whom, are such spaces to be
    opened up, maintained, defended, rendered sustainable? How and by whom are
    they to be heard? Integrated within, or interruptive of, neighbourhoods,
    local soundscapes, educational systems? Archived, networked, circulated
    beyond? Through what agencies, technologies, mediations? And how to deal
    with issues of rights, royalties and remunerations arising in the context of

  • We welcome papers that address these issues, from both a practical and a
    theoretical point of view. We also welcome reflection on existing activism.
    Interventions in this area are often non-institutional acts of individual
    witnessing and personal commitment. Such acts – as well as the more visible,
    institutionalised, and better-documented work of NGOs – have histories from
    which we can learn and on which we can build.

A longer-term aim of our conference will be to consider the production of a
manifesto for musical freespace, prompted in part by the crisis of urban
music making, and in part by the migration and refugee crises of our time.

Please note that, as part of the conference’s follow-on programme, we shall
spend a day visiting the Architecture Biennale.

Conference organisers:

Fulvia Caruso [University of Pavia]
Ed Emery [SOAS, London]
Martin Stokes [King’s College, London]

Proposals for papers should include:

[a]  Title of paper

[b]  Name and institution (if any) of proposer

[c]  Abstract of proposed paper [Maximum 200 words]

[d]  Brief CV of proposer of paper [Maximum 100 words]

Deadline for proposals: 15 March 2018

Notification of acceptance of papers: 15 April 2018

Location of conference: Awaiting finalisation

Proposals and enquiries should be directed to


The official language of the conference will be English.

Where possible we would like to have a draft of final papers two weeks before
the conference, for pre-circulation to conference participants.

There is no registration charge for speakers presenting at the conference. A
small attendance fee will be charged to other attendees.

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