Music plays an immense role in our lives, acting as entertainment, mood-adjuster and medium of communication. Providing a sense of solidarity through collective effervescence (Durkheim 1915) or the basis for violent divisions (Cohen 1972). Steven Feld’s (2013) concept of ‘acoustemology’ assists us in theoretically placing musical experience at the heart of accounts of social life. Music is evocative of meaning and memories tied to people, places and particular events, powerfully bringing them into the present. In this conference we want to explore some of the specificities of these meanings in relation to experiences in fieldwork across the social sciences, compiling a fieldwork playlist in the process. Evolving from the ‘mix-tape’, the playlist is a form of communication through the assemblage of songs.
For our fieldwork playlist, each contributor will pick one song and recount the story of how that song came to hold significance in relation to their research encounters and experience. Selection is framed by Christopher Small’s (1987) concept of ‘Musicking’- songs in and of themselves are less important than the songs as they were experienced in the field. Does this song return you to a particular event like a Proustian madeleine? Did it act as a form of self-medication or is it connected to a particularly resonant person? Can the song articulate the emotions and circumstances surrounding moments of connection or discord in a way that other more textual forms of representation cannot? We encourage contributions from across the field-based social sciences. The format is straightforward – one song and the story behind its significance in the social life of the field. The aim of the conference is to compile the resulting playlist into an edited volume, along with an online (more aurally fitting) compilation.
The conference will be held on 25/10/2013 at Goldsmiths College, London. Please send a brief abstract (200-300 words) with the artist and the title of the song as the title.