Transcultural Hip-Hop: Constructing and Contesting Identity, Space, and Place in the Americas and beyond
University of Bern, Switzerland, October 30 – 31, 2020
Almost fifty years after its birth, hip-hop is considered a truly global phenomenon that combines elements of uniformity with local symbols and expressions regarding musical forms, lyrics, performances, and social content. It can be said that within the US context, hip-hop emerged during the 1970s as an African American subculture.
However, from its very beginning hip-hop has been a highly transcultural and hybrid phenomenon that integrates various musical elements and forms of cultural expression. In addition to African American popular culture, for example, Caribbean and Latin American music styles, language and dance played a vital role in the formation and development of hip-hop on both coasts of the US. The entanglement of diverse cultures and diasporas on the evolution of hip-hop as a music and as a movement, in the urban settings of New York and Los Angeles, for example, encourages us to think of these different musical, cultural, and social traits in more fluid or hybrid terms. Furthermore, diasporic identity in the multicultural neighborhoods where hip-hop first emerged is also fluid concerning the interaction between diasporic “peripheries” and their centers of origin. This conference aims to focus on the transcultural, inter-ethnic and diasporic exchanges that created hip-hop and helped to spread it within the US and beyond. The conference asks how identity markers bound by ethnic, cultural, and spatial categories are being negotiated in hip-hop. While concentrating on the Americas, the conference will also include papers that focus on other world regions and on transregional entanglements.
Welcoming scholars from different disciplinary and geographic backgrounds, the conference aims to offer a space for debate and discussion among academics, artists and hip-hop enthusiasts interested in the transculturality of hip-hop in the Americas and beyond.