Well I had a quite wonderful afternoon, watching five of my PhD students receiving their PhDs today, at the graduation ceremony at The Lowry, Salford Quays. Warmest congratulations to each of them, so thrilled for them all. Proud and pleased. Lovely to share some time on such a sunny day with them, and meet their families and friends, and hear about their future plans. Radio, performance, practice as research, blogging, jazz, comedy, digital, critical race studies, diasporean media, cultural politics, the BBC and music/media industries—these clever, successful and creative people have taught me so much about these and other subjects over the past 3-4 years. Mary, Deborah, Tom, Lloyd, Everette: thank you! You can see the film of the ceremony here (PhD awards start at 1h:04m). And you can read here a lovely tribute on the Black British Academics website from one of my students, Deborah, to another, Everette (there are some kind words for the supervisor too, *blushing face).
Am so looking forward to being involved in this wonderful sounding conference in Porto tomorrow, at the University of Porto and the Casa da Música. So many interesting sessions across the entire programme! I guess I should dig out an old copy of DiY Culture for aeroplane reading en route. I am talking with Andy Bennett about his new book, Growing Old Disgracefully? (actually that’s the subtitle but it seems to me that it should be the title) at a book launch on Thursday evening. Then, Friday lunchtime, I’m giving one of the keynote addresses, talking about cripping punk, the cultural practice and expression of disability on that original music scene from the mid-/late-1970s in the UK, Ian Dury, Johnny Rotten, Ian Curtis… You can find the entire packed programme here.
… One of my key roles on the Connected Communities programme is to ensure and champion the critical central presence of arts and humanities scholarship, texts and practices. In what ways are communities creative, how does creative practice make or exclude community, how are communities represented, romanticised, invented, nostalgised (at MediaCityUK in Salford ITV has recently opened the brand new build of the Coronation Street set)?
I said I was interested in festivals. And here we are at one. And this event really does feel like it has the quality of a festival, not just a summit or gathering of projects and partners. There’s more here I think—partly it’s quantity and the sheer range and variety on offer across multiple venues, taking over and remaking space, claiming the public sphere. It’s also I think the spark of celebration I feel here—have we really made all this, together?—and the chance of encounter, of fun, of provocation, juxtaposed and clashing. And okay, a key aspect of the carnivalesque is the inversion of the norm, and an overturning of everyday rules where the distinction between participant and observer is blurred. Now, we might manage some of that, at a punk rock gig or a participatory performance or a political march—we’ve got all of those happening here—but we might also just discover a little piece of magic, an idea or a thought, via the earthy hand of an archaeologist or a gardener.
From a dig to a gig, from a walk to a talk, from holding a banner to being a flaneur, from a bazaar to possibly the bizarre, it’s all here folks. (Is it?) Roll up, roll up.
Following terrific gatherings and summits of projects and partners in London and Edinburgh in 2013, this year the Arts & Humanities Research Council’s Connected Communities programme takes things up a level with a really packed and outstanding programme of events over two days on Cardiff. Gigs, digs, talks, walks, readings, pop-up events, digital stuff, intellectual stuff, banners, cafes, films and games, performances and bazaars, all of it open and free to the public, across a number of venues in Cardiff, from morning to night.