Tag Archives: utopia

Utopia 501? Utopia and Connected Communities conference programme, British Library 7 December

cropped-Utopian-alphabet.jpgOur latests event from Connected Communities ….

Utopia and Connected Communities conference, British Library, Bronte Room, 7 December 2016


8.45-9.15                   Registration, tea and coffee

9.15-9.30                   Introduction ‘Utopia 501’ George McKay

9.30-10.15                Keynote address ‘Free cultural spaces’ Alan Dearling

10.15-11.15               Utopia and well-being

  • ‘Dementia futures’ Teri Howson, Bangor University, Lisa Carter, Artist
  • ‘Resilience’ Anne Rathbone, University of Brighton, Mikey Reynolds, Arts Connect, Ruth Mowbray, Arts Connect
  • Chair: Carenza Lewis, University of Lincoln

11.15-12.15               Performing utopia

  • ‘The Reasons’ Mike Wilson, Loughborough University, Antonia Liguori, Loughborough University, Sharron Kraus, Singer/Song writer
  • ‘Ghost Lab’ Geoff Bright, Manchester Metropolitan University, Sue Moffet, New Vic Theatre Borderlines, Max Munday, Community Broadcaster
  • Chair: Kate Pahl, University of Sheffield

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-11-38-1912.15-13.00              Lunch

to include ‘Utopian picnic’ Tessa Tricks, Hubbub, Stine Wilhelmsen, Hubbub and Paul Hurley, University of Southampton

13.00-14.30               Utopia, space, place

  • ‘Belonging maps’ Yvonne Hall, Durham University, Kate Pahl, University of Sheffield, Josh Cameron, University of Brighton, Paul Neale, the Recovery College, West Sussex, Saff Brooker, the Recovery College, West Sussex
  • ‘Beebots-a-lula’ Dr Deborah Maxwell, University of York, Dr Toby Pillatt, University of Sheffield, Liz Edwards, Lancaster University
  • ‘Exploring Middlefield’s utopia’ Professor Carenza Lewis, University of Lincoln, Dr Ian Waites, University of Lincoln, Lucy Picksley, Community Engagement Officer
  • Chair: Teri Howson, Bangor University

14.30-15.10               Utopia, movement and tradition

  • ‘Re-use of cultural heritage’ Graeme Evans
  • ‘“Welcome”: utopian methodologies and epistemologies’ Samuel McKay
  • Chair: Mike Wilson, Loughborough University

15.10-15.25              Short Break – tea and coffee

15.25-16.25               Utopia and culture; or, 

  • ‘Utopia and play’ Kate Pahl, University of Sheffield, Steve Pool, Artist, João Paulo Simões, Frontier Media, Patrick Meleady
  • ‘Wonderland: the art of becoming human’ Amanda Ravetz, Manchester School of Art, Michaela Jones, Mark Prest
  • Chair: Geoff Bright, Manchester Metropolitan University

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-11-38-3016.25-17.15               Theory and practice

  • ‘Utopia, religion, theory’ Johan Siebers, Middlesex University, Marcus Hurcombe, Lapis Philosophorum’
  • ‘Co-production’ Kate Pahl, University of Sheffield, David M Bell, Newcastle University
  • Chair: Amanda Ravetz, Manchester School of Art 
Share Button

#jazzutopia: versions thereof, at the Rhythm Changes conference in April ’16

Jazz Utopia conference logo‘The only jazz utopias we can know are the ones we have lost’—Krin Gabbard

‘More’s Utopia rests on an underclass, which resonates with jazz history, slavery…’—Alyn Shipton

At the wonderfully rich and varied (as well layered, nuanced and intermittently Guelphian) 4th Rhythm Changes international conference in jazz in Birmingham a number of different versions and glimpses of what might be thought of as the idea or problem of utopia in relation to jazz have been offered. Here are ones I heard or thought of from the four brilliant days. Others that you heard/spoke/glimpsed/played? There must be. Please do contribute! Together they give a sense of how utopian thinking can inform jazz studies, perhaps of the limits of utopian thinking, perhaps of the limits of utopian thinking in jazz and musicology.

  • Space of jazz (especially in repressive regimes)—for instance, jazz happening in underground clubs, multiracial spaces in racist societies, jazz dance floor as site of pleasure and freedom. Also jazz and festivals, and the utopian possibility of transformation at festival.
  • Jazz challenges in its early days: the music’s reception in the early 20th century in for example European countries to national categories of identity and national (cultural) institutions. Jazz changed what it meant to be German, French, British, say.
  • Jazz as diasporic cultural practice and its relation to utopia (utopia = no place = transit culture, rooted in initially Atlantic middle passage). Also other later nomadic narratives.
  • Related social cultural practices and metaphors of sociality (food, dancing, though I didn’t hear much about sex, which I thought strange).
  • Jazz as music for social justice—the radical as well as liberal politics of the music. From civil rights to Breathless, as well as the music’s place in activism in countries outside the US.
  • Jazz as transnational music, exploring and making dialogue between and across nations.
  • Jazz and childhood: innocence (?), playfulness (we saw merry-go-rounds and swings at jazz festivals–yes, jazz swings!), toy pianos.
  • Utopia not as perfect but as imperfect: flaunted imperfection of (instrumental) technique in some musics (some free improvisation, some trad jazz).
  • Jazz as dystopian sound: one early reviewer described it as possessing ‘the buzzing rattle of a machine gun, only not so musical’.
  • Utopian strands in the music itself? Something utopian in the sounds themselves, the dialogic process of the bandstand, the collective, and in the (live) music’s improvisational impermanence.
  • & magic? Black magic?

And I thought of this too: what about the conference itself as a utopian intellectual (social, cultural) compressed time-space—we here at Rhythm Changes are in a ‘good place’ for jazz research, one we thought up (dreamed) then made with you over the past 6-7 years. (OK, I am writing this at the very end of the conference so am both bleary-eyed and wearing rose-tinted glasses: such a view needs qualifying by reminding ourselves that utopia is also functionally exclusive; we need to acknowledge the event’s dominant whiteness and the notable male presence of delegates.)

Some jazz utopianists in a, er, Northern Soul club in Digbeth, Birmingham, one late conference evening

Some jazz utopianists in a, er, Northern Soul club in Digbeth, Birmingham, one late conference evening

Share Button