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Conference organised by the Arab Media Centre, Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI)

Keynote Speaker: Thomas Burkhalter

The compendium of research into Arab popular music and music in the Arab region, in general, remains very modest. While Arabic literature on the topic is skewed towards historiographical and micro-sociological studies of folkloric musical traditions, recent scholarship emerging from Western academia is more in synch with the present tense of Arab popular cultures, focusing largely on current, avant-garde and emerging musical trends in the region. The result is a polarised and fragmented field of research that lacks coherence and systematicity. There is as yet no sociology of Arab popular music, nor is there evidence of an overall critical framework that lends itself to a conjunctional critique.

Movements of people and tunes across areas of conflict within the Arab region and out to different diasporic locations have brought awareness of new musical and creative energies, which demand our attention as academics. Musicians in the Arab region and in the diaspora are making use of musical and digital technologies to produce, collaborate, and distribute new sounds in response to a new era. They are generating new aesthetics by blending different genres, reconstructing old repertoires, and reclaiming minority music heritage. Furthermore, the over-commercialisation and lack of a legal framework to protect creativity raises important and key political economy questions about the Arab music industry, which have yet to be studied in a systematic way.

The Arab Media Centre’s 11th annual international conference welcomes: academics musicians, music industry and non-commercial music organisations to engage in dialogue about the present concerns (cultural, aesthetic, economic, political) of music in the Arab region. Contributors will be invited to engage with one of the following themes:

  • Theories of popular music: towards a critical analysis of Arab popular music
  • The political economy of music in the Arab region
  • Histories of popular music in the Arab region
  • Performing and making music in the time of revolutions
  • Music as ethnography
  • Migration and music
  • Arab diasporic music and new hybridised genres
  • Music as resistance
  • Music as politics
  • Music and subcultures in the Arab region
  • Music and celebrity cultures
  • Music audiences in the Arab region
  • Music as memory
  • Transcendental and experimental music in the Arab region

Programme and registration

This one-day conference, taking place on Friday 8 April 2016, will include a keynote address, plenary sessions and live music performances. The fee for registration for all participants, including presenters, will be £120, with a concessionary rate of £60 for students, to cover all conference documentation, refreshments and administration costs.

See the draft programme.

Register now via Eventbrite

If you have any questions, please contact [email protected].

Travel expenses

Participants fund their own travel and accommodation expenses.


There will be various openings for publication, including an edited collection and a themed issue of the Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication. Publication will be discussed further after the conference.