Information Overload? Music Studies in the Age of Abundance
Deadline for Submissions (250-word abstracts plus 100-word bio): Friday 7
Email Address for Submissions: muscon2021 -at- contacts.bham.ac.uk
Conference Dates: 8-10 September 2021
Keynote Speakers: Robin James (UNC at Charlotte), Nick Seaver (Tufts
University). More Speakers TBA.
Conference Website with Full CFP & Info:
Venue: University of Birmingham (UK) and Online
For those investigating any musical activity after about 1994, the main
sources of research data will not be print archives or discrete media –
they will be World Wide Web media. The Internet Archive, the web’s library,
today holds over 525 billion archived web pages, while API and post-API
archiving initiatives make social web platforms accessible as research
databases. At first glance, no other archive is more inclusive in terms of
whose voices it represents, and none more comprehensive in terms of the
insights it provides into the thoughts, desires and musical tastes of
Yet there is good cause to be sceptical of claims to a more ‘democratic’
archive in an age of surveillance capitalism. Contrary to early hopes that
the internet would bring about greater egalitarianism, Shoshana Zuboff
argues that the political economy of contemporary digital communications is
characterised by ‘radical indifference’ in the service of maximising data
flows. The harms that algorithms perpetuate through biased and incomplete
training data suggest that visibility within the archive remains strongly
patterned according to race, gender, prosperity, ability and geography.
Intersecting with these concerns is a question of how the superficial
‘abundance’ of stories to be told about music in the last twenty-five years
impacts on questions of historical theory.
With this conference we seek to gather researchers who are interested in
the epistemological, methodological, ethical, and disciplinary problems
that arise when studying music in the age of abundance.
Christopher Haworth, Danielle Sofer, Edward Spencer
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