Seventh Cadbury Fellows Workshop

Seventh Cadbury Fellows Workshop

1 March 2010 - 8 May 2010

The Centre of West African Studies at the University of Birmingham ( invites applications to contribute to the 2010 Cadbury Fellows’ Workshop, which will focus on popular culture in contemporary urban Africa.

Three visiting fellows from Africa will be appointed to participate in a ten-week schedule of seminars, discussion groups, and other activities. The workshop will culminate in an international conference, 6-8 May 2010 jointly organised with Institute of Anthropological Research in Africa (IARA), University of Leuven, within the framework of AEGIS.

One aim of the Fellowship scheme is to assist new scholars to develop a research paper and bring it to publication, and the conference papers will form the basis of a special issue of Africa, the journal of the International African Institute.

Fellowships will cover return air-fare, accommodation and living costs for a period of ten weeks. The deadline for applications for fellowships is 1 November 2009.


We welcome contributions that explore the material and symbolic dimensions of urban forms of popular culture. Our central questions for the workshop are:

· How do music and broadcasting media in their material, embodied and symbolic forms participate in the constitution of African urban experience?

· How do urban public spaces and infrastructure in Africa generate specific kinds of practices, discourses and expressions in urban popular culture?

We understand ‘popular culture’ as a zone of ambiguity, constituting a cacophony of sounds and images, and producing variegated narratives, icons and realities. We take 'urban' to be a shifting and relative term, which can include small towns as well as major cities. Against this background, the workshop will explore the following themes:

Space, infrastructure and zones of entertainment

· How do zones of entertainment shape urban life worlds?

· How do music and media events fashion cityscapes in temporary or permanent ways?

· How do local, transnational and international celebrities move around African cities, towns and villages, whether physically or in the imagination?

· Where and when do people flock to witness musicians and media celebrities? How are these events controlled by state officials, ethnic and religious leaders and other social authorities?

Power and popular culture

· What is the place of music and broadcasting in actions of resistance, propaganda and censorship programmes? And how do producers, brokers and audiences adapt to it?

· How and when do politicians and religious leaders become celebrities?

· Where are musicians and media producers (actors, hosts, journalists) positioned on the various axes of power and authority?

· What kind of new social categories emerge in the margins of music and media? We can think of journalists, dubbers and translators, shop keepers, etc. Which social categories make a livelihood out of music and media production and events? And how can they achieve this?

Time and music/media

· Do music and media genres structure the rhythms of city life?

· What do songs and media productions reveal about memory, nostalgia and hope? How are past, present, and future imagined, expressed and brought about via popular culture?

· How do genres, content and celebrities produce a rift between the generations? And, conversely, in what ways do young and old collectively engage with music and media?

Visceral aesthetics and the city

· How does popular culture contribute to ‘the urban feel’ and the imagination of urbanism?

· How ‘urban’ are the aesthetics of music and media that we find in African cities and towns? Do certain music and media productions produce an ‘African urban style’?

· How do the visceral aesthetics of certain music and media genres tie in with larger, more encompassing symbolic worlds such as religion, politics, and/or the market?

· What kind of embodied experiences do music and media producers and audiences yearn for, appreciate, or jettison?


The Cadbury Fellows’ Workshop and conference will be led by Karin Barber, Katrien Pype and David Kerr. The 10-week programme runs from 1 March 2010 to 8 May 2010. A range of events is planned, among them:

- seminars in which participants present their on-going research

- meetings including reading group, film screenings and visiting speakers

- a three day visit to the Institute of Anthropological Research in Africa (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium), where the Fellows will interact with anthropologists working on urbanism in sub-Saharan Africa- a three day working party exploring popular texts, with visitors from IARA

- the international conference (6-8 May 2010), in which the three Cadbury Fellows and other researchers will present their work.

How to apply to participate in the conference (6-8 May 2010)

Enquiries and applications are very welcome.

If you wish to present a paper, send a 250-word abstract to David Kerr ( ) by 1 February 2010. An additional, more detailed call for papers will be circulated in due course. Participants will normally be expected to cover their own travel and accommodation costs. However, funds will be available to support a small number of invited speakers.

More information:


Who is eligible for a Cadbury Fellowship?

How to apply for a Cadbury Fellowship

How to participate in the Conference


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