Call for Book Chapters: Hip-Hop Archives: The Politics and Poetics of Knowledge Production

Hip-Hop Archives: The Politics and Poetics of Knowledge Production
Edited by Mark V. Campbell (Ryerson University)
Murray Forman (Northeastern University)

As editors of this book, we seek contributions that critically address hip-hop archives (both digital and physical) and the processes of archivization, encompassing theoretical and analytical perspectives and exploring globally dispersed cases. We particularly welcome contributions from individuals who are in some way actively engaged in the development or operation of hip-hop archives in any medium and at any stage or scale, whether independent collections or institutionally supported enterprises. We also value the various ways in which hip-hop culture is engaged from historical and material perspectives, allowing for examination of the archive as a historical apparatus as well as a contemporary physical assemblage of artifacts.

This book focuses on the culture and politics involved in building, maintaining, and researching hip-hop archives. It addresses practical aspects, including methods of accumulation, curation, preservation, and digitization and critically analyzes institutional power, community engagement, urban economics, public access, and the ideological implications associated with hip-hop culture’s enduring tensions with dominant social values.

Roughly forty-five years since hip-hop culture emerged, a broad and sizeable array of material artifacts, recorded materials, and various cultural ephemera has accumulated. Pioneering artists, life-long fans, industry mavens, and keen collectors have amassed collections of artifacts that are essential to the definition of localized hip-hop scenes, providing crucial insights onto the people, places, aesthetics and other often-obscure details that trace the arc of cultural development. Included in these collections are photographs, event flyers and posters, recordings (in multiple configurations), video materials, magazines, clothing and other stylistic signifiers, personal papers and notebooks, and oral history recordings. These materials, and their archival existence, have thus far received only scant scholarly attention within a sustained critical framework and, thus, this book seeks to enhance an understanding of hip-hip culture more widely by expanding our knowledge and understanding about the emergent role of hip-hop archives.

Archives are generally a response to a need to actively preserve a culture, allowing for present and future citizens to access and interpret the evolution of a people’s innovations and endeavors. Archives encompass facets of heritage and legacy, merging the temporal past with present and future implications. They are repositories of cultural histories and, as such, they are also sites for the amplification of narratives and other representational forms that, in their diversity, disseminate symbolic values and meanings. At the current cultural moment, digitization also amplifies the ubiquity and importance of archival processes in relation to hip-hop’s ongoing vitality. The archiving of hip-hop culture consequently offers a powerful initiative that simultaneously celebrates the achievements of cultural forebears while critically engaging with ideologies, social and political issues, economic forces, and artistic creativity, repositioning the once-marginal practices and attitude associated with hip-hop at the center of larger debates about the character of our urban environments and cultural priorities.

The book aims to present rigorous scholarly research that critically and theoretically examines hip-hop’s archival turn, including interrogating the distinctions between small, independent archives and collections as well as those that feature larger holdings and that are institutionally located in public and university libraries or national spaces such as the U.S. Smithsonian Institute. Further emphasis will be placed on the ways in which hip-hop archives mobilize community involvement, facilitating engagements that take various shapes and have diverse implications for how local hip-hop scenes envision themselves and their relationship to the wider hip-hop culture.

Of this latter point, the book strongly advocates for a global perspective. We invite chapters with a pronounced international foundation, seeking to draw on the insights and archival practices enacted in multiple national contexts, exploring the constraining and enabling factors that arise in dispersed locales.

Deadline for Proposals: April 1st, 2019 (250 words max.)
Proposals can be submitted in word.doc format to:
Mark V. Campbell or Murray Forman


Conference: Hip-Hop in the Golden Age, 16-17 February 2019, Indiana University

In honor of black history month and in celebration of the 30th anniversary of De La Soul’s groundbreaking album 3 Feet High and Rising, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music  with support from the the IU Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies  will present an interdisciplinary conference, entitled “Hip-Hop in the Golden Age.” Record producer and recording artist Prince Paul (Paul Huston) has been announced as the keynote speaker.

Hip-hop’s golden age (ca. 1988–95 in the US) was a time of unprecedented creativity. Having crossed over into mainstream culture but not yet bound by the restrictions of major labels, rappers and producers explored seemingly limitless avenues of beat production, flow, and lyrical topics. This conference will explore any and all aspects of the golden age of hip-hop, including the historical circumstances that gave rise to it, and its impact on later artists: thus, paper presentations need not deal explicitly with hip-hop produced during that time. We envision this as an interdisciplinary conference, and welcome proposals from scholars in a variety of different disciplines, including those outside music.

For those unable to attend the conference in person, all papers and events will be streamed live at and the organizers will have a Twitter hashtag for those who wish to ask questions or participate remotely.

Read more on the program, registration, and conference committee.

CIPHER: HipHop Studies Goes Global

Congratulations to Griffith Rollefson, lecturer in the Department of Music at the University College Cork and member of the European HipHop Studies Network, and his team for securing a €2m research grant from the European Research Council!

The grant was awarded for the project CIPHER: Hip Hop Interpellation. CIPHER is an acronym for Le Conseil International pour Hip Hop et Recherche – The International Council for Hip Hop Studies. Prof. Rollefson and a team of researchers will investigate how and why hip-hop as a highly localized African American music has translated so easily to far-flung communities and contexts around the globe. The award will fund a five-year project to study hip-hop on six continents.

Over the next five years, the Council will help steer the strategic vision and promotion of the project as well as taking part in conferences, publications, and community-engaged work. A 12-person global advisory council has been selected to steer the strategic vision of the world’s first global study of hip-hop music and culture. The CIPHER Advisory Board is made up of academics from around the world with specializations in hip-hop ranging from the USA, UK, France, and Germany to Brazil, Jamaica, Senegal, South Africa, Japan, Aotearoa/New Zealand, the Philippines, and beyond.

Griffith Rollefson ( is the author of the first monograph on European hip-hop, titled Flip the Script: European Hip Hop and the Politics of Postcoloniality. The seeds for the CIPHER initiative can be found in the conclusion to that 2017 book – as can Prof. Rollefson’s love of Irish hip-hop.

Read more about CIPHER:

UCC Press Release

CIPHER website

CIPHER on Twitter: @GlobalCipher

Griffith Rollefson on Twitter: @cybergriff

ELEMENTS BRISTOL: 2nd Meeting of the European HipHop Studies Network 2019 – Call for Papers out now!

It is an extremely great pleasure to present the Call for Papers for the 2nd meeting of the European HipHop Studies Network. Submit your project and join the movement!

ELEMENTS BRISTOL, 06-08 June 2019

2nd Meeting of the European HipHop Studies Network

University of Bristol, UK

Call for Papers

Emceeing. DJing. Breaking. Graffiti. Hip-hop is commonly understood to consist of these four elements. The idea of four elements is one of hip-hop culture’s core narrative and most pervasive founding myth since its beginnings in the Bronx in the 1970s. Yet, the idea of four core elements has been highly contested since the beginning of the culture as there is no unified definition of how many elements exist, who defined them, and how they came together. For instance, hip-hop founding father Kool Herc believes that “that there are far more than those [four elements]: the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you look, the way you communicate.” (Chang xi) Likewise, on his album Kristyles, KRS ONE introduces his theory of nine elements which include beatboxing, fashion, knowledge, and entrepreneurialism (“Nine Elements”). On the other hand, researchers such as criminologist Jeffrey Ross also emphasize that “graffiti […] was established long before hip-hop music emerged in the South Bronx, and many of its practitioners do not identify with the music or its subculture at all” (139). While their number is contested, hip-hop’s elements are crucial in understanding the logics, conventions, and values of this fascinating culture in the US and in Europe. They reveal its creative tensions as well as larger notions of authority, authorship, boundary formation, community as well as inclusion and exclusion.

The second meeting of the European HipHop Studies Network therefore explores one of hip-hop’s most central ideas, the ideas of elements: Who defines them? What do they tell us about cultural,  social, and economic communities and boundaries across Europe? How do these limits vary according to various contexts and practices across Europe? What are their consequences for cultural production and consumption? The objective of the meeting is to trace, interrogate, and expand the notion of elements as central organizing principles in hip-hop culture and their variations across Europe.

We invite papers, panels, performances, and contributions from a wide variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and angles. Scholarly disciplines include but are not limited to art history, cultural studies, black studies, ethnography, geography, graffiti studies, literary studies, musicology, pedagogy, performance studies, philosophy, political science, sociology, and visual culture studies. Artistic contributions include performances, themed panels of any format, lecture-recitals, and philosophies which combine research and praxis (or practice-as-research).

Artistic and scholarly proposals engaging with European hip-hop’s elements (those based both in Europe and outside of it) should include a title, 250 word abstract of their contribution and short biographical sketch. This should be submitted to no later than 31 January 2019. We especially welcome papers that engage with less-academically-visible work, and from artists and practitioners from a wider variety of backgrounds. We hope to see you in Bristol!

Network Organizing Committee

  • Séverin Guillard (University Paris Est Créteil)
  • Sergey Ivanov (aka Grand PaP) (DA EXIT NGO, Moscow)
  • James McNally (University of Bristol)
  • Sina Nitzsche (Ruhr University Bochum/TU Dortmund University)
  • Griffith Rollefson (University College Cork)
  • Venla Sykäri (University of Helsinki)
  • Justin Williams (University of Bristol)


Justin Williams

Call for Papers: Rhyme and Rhyming in Verbal Art and Song

Rhyme and Rhyming in Verbal Art and Song  

Helsinki, Finland, 22nd– 24th May 2019

During Medieval times, end rhyme became a key device for demarcating poetic lines in European and Arabic cultures. Besides characterizing a longstanding literary tradition, end rhyme and rhyme patterns became central structural and sonic elements in oral and oral-literary traditions worldwide. In oral performance, rhyme stands for aesthetics, creativity and memory: memorization as well as the exploitation of working memory in lyrical improvisation. In verbal art and song, rhymed registers continue to deploy the poetic potential of language for situated communication and meaning over changes in fashion and the coming of new musical styles.

This conference is intended to promote cross-disciplinary analysis and understanding of the role and aesthetics of rhyme in the poetics of sound and meaning. Our focus is especially upon the history and universality of rhyme as well as its particularities in various performed oral and popular registers.

The keynote speakers will be:

  • Nigel Fabb, Professor of Literary Linguistics, The University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
  • Dwight Reynolds, Professor of Arabic Language & Literature, Uni. of California, Santa Barbara
  • Seppo Heikkinen, Senior Lecturer in Latin, University of Helsinki, Helsinki

We invite scholars to engage in analytic discussions on rhyme as a poetic device and rhyming as a cognitive practice. Proposals with abstracts of 300–500 words should be sent by 15th November 2018 to:

We welcome proposals including, but not limited to, the following themes:

  • POETICS: forms, patterns, aesthetics; language/culture-specific versus universal characteristics
  • TRADITIONS: cultures, genres, registers; oral/popular/sacred; the interface of oral and literary
  • HISTORY: historical continuums, developments and transformations; poetic ideologies/currents
  • COGNITION: methods of oral composition; reception, perception, memorization

The conference Rhyme and Rhyming in Verbal Art and Song will be held 22nd–24th May 2019 at the Finnish Literature Society (SKS), Hallituskatu 1, Helsinki, Finland.

The event is organized by Folklore Studies of the University of Helsinki and the Academy of Finland research project Letters and Songs: Registers of Beliefs and Expressions in the Early Modern North (2016–2020) of the Finnish Literature Society. A registration fee (approx. 60 €) will cover lunches and coffee/tee. For more information, please contact

Rope A Dope 4: Hip-Hop Studies Symposium in Bristol, UK

Adam de Paor-Evans and Justin Williams are hosting a symposium on hip-hop studies as part of ROPE-A-DOPE 4 (27-29 July) at The Rope Walk pub in Bedminster, Bristol. On Friday 27 July, the symposium features speakers on graffiti, grime, Grenfell, drill, early electro in the UK, and much more. Discussion panels will include hip-hop in other parts of the world, graffiti and hip-hop’s social responsibilities for academics and practitioners. The event coincides nicely with the 10th anniversary of UPFEST (the largest graffiti/street art festival in Europe- Saturday 28th – Monday 30th July 2018).

The symposium will run on the Friday (27th July) from 10am-6pm followed by DJs spinning the finest in rare funk, hip hop and boogie from 7pm till late. Saturday and some of Sunday will be plenty of live performances there as well, including live graffiti by local artists on the Saturday. The Rope Walk, B-Line Recordings, University of Bristol, UCLan, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council are stakeholders in this super dope event.

Events are free and welcome to all.

Hope to see you there!

HipHop Education in the UK: #HipHopEdUK

Since 2012, Daren Chetty and his colleagues have been running free, open-access sessions for hip-hop artists, educators, youth-workers and anyone else interested in thinking about the relationship between hip-hop culture and education. A round-up of their events organized in 2017 can be found at the HipHopEdUK Newsletter.

Check out their important work!