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ASAUK 2012, Uncategorized

Panel 10 Congolese popular music: local and global practices and their contexts, strategies and stakes


Congolese Popular Music: local and global practices and their contexts, strategies and stakes.

This panel will be presented at the biannual conference of the ASAUK (African Studies Association in the UK) in September 2012 (Leeds, Sept 6-8). The organizers have invited the Congo Research Network to participate in this. 12 Congo related panels have been accepted.

If you wish to participate, you can join already accepted panels or you can submit a stand-alone paper. Participants should submit their paper abstracts via the ASAUK website. First, they should register as authors, then select the panel in which they want to participate, and then enter their abstract.

The following link gives you more information about registration: http://www.asauk.net/conferences/asauk12.shtml

The deadline for the submission of paper abstracts is 27 April 2012.

To attend the event without presenting a paper, contact the conference organizer David Kerr (conference@asauk.net, +44 (0)121 414 5124)


Congolese music has been, since the 1940’s, the most dynamic musical genre in Africa. Yet, until recently, it has not been the subject of concentrated social analysis. While some earlier studies evoked the history of this music (Romain2000), or its evolution over time (Stewart 2000), others touched on biographical aspects of the various stars (Gakosso, Ewens 1986, Mpisi 2004, Nimy 2007), others still have looked at the cosmopolitan influences which marked the origins of this music (White 2002). But, with the notable exceptions of White, the above writings are the product of enthusiasm rather than academic critique.
More recent works have looked at Congolese music as a social fact, and in this regard we can cite studies on the relationship between Congolese music and political power (White 2008), the relations between Congolese music, trans-national migration and informal political-economic networks (Trapido 2010, 2011), or the relations of conflict in the context of struggles over leadership and symbolic power (Tsambu 2004). All of these works have considered dimensions relating to patronage, prestige and the various crises and transformations in the Congolese recording industry (Tsambu 2005, White 2008, Trapido 2011).
All these perspectives, which can be revisited, do not exhaust the possibilities for enquiry. For Congolese music presents us with an example of the Maussian ‘total social fact’, mixing the political, the economic, the social, the cultural, the aesthetic, the sacred and the profane, the local and the global. There is a strong tendency to view this social fact as a unique manifestation of Kinshasa, the Congolese capital, and of its vernacular, Lingala. But this ignores important elements relating to the contexts, strategies and stakes of Congolese music practices, in the interior of the country and abroad throughout Africa as highlighted by the researcher and performer Tom Salter (2007) or across Europe, sometimes in a fusion with musicians from diverse origins (McGuinness and her grupo Lokito band).
This panel, which brings together 4 researchers and/or practitioners of Congolese/African music, would like to contribute to creating a larger understanding of this socio-musical phenomenon, which in its genesis has brought together such diverse cultural influences and, in its mature aesthetic has remained a quintessentially open and cosmopolitan form. The contributions we hope to receive for this panel could consider the social fact of Congolese music from the widest possible range of viewpoints: meanings of the lyrics, dance, ‘stardom’, video, gender, patronage, sponsoring, media, audience and fandom, stages and other spaces of performance, Congolese music and migration… In short we solicit contributions from all possible perspectives that the social and humanistic sciences can provide.

Selective Bibliography
Ewens, G., Luambo Franco and 30 Years of OK Jazz: 1956-1986, London: Off the Record Press.
Gakosso, J.-C., Ntesa Dalienst et la sublime épopée des Grands Maquisards, Bruxelles : Editions Gutenberg-UGB, Collection ‘Musique d’Afrique’.
Mpisi, J., Tabu Ley ‘ Rochereau’ innovateur de la musique africaine, Paris : L’Harmattan, Collection ‘ Univers musical’.
Nimy Nzonga, J.-P., 2007, Dictionnaire des immortels de la musique congolaise moderne, Louvain-la-Neuve : Academia-Bruylant.
Romain, V., 2000, ‘Un espace colonial: musiques africaines en Belgique et au Congo’, J.-L. Vellut (ed), Itinéraires croisés de la modernité au Congo belge, Cahiers Africains, n°43-44, Institut Africain-CEDAF, Tervuren-Paris : L’Harmattan, pp.205-238.
Salter, T., 2007, Rumba From Congo To Cape Town, PhD thesis, University of Edinburg, Scotland.
Stewart, G., 2000, Rumba on the River. A History of Popular Music of Two Congos, London, New York: Verso.
Trapido, J., 2011. ‘The Political Economy of Migration and Reputation in Kinshasa.’ Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 81.2: 204-225.

Trapido, J., 2010. ‘Love and money in Kinois popular music.’ Journal of African Cultural Studies, 22 (2):121-144
Tsambu B., Leon, 2004, ‘Musique et violence à Kinshasa’, T. Trefon (ed), Ordre et désordre à Kinshasa. Réponses populaires à la faillite de l’Etat, Cahiers Africains, n° 61-62, Tervuren/Paris : MRAC/L’Harmattan, pp. 193-212.
Tsambu B., Leon, 2005, ‘ Epure d’un développement de l’industrie du disque congolaise par le mécénat privé’, Africa Media Review, Volume 13, No 2, Dakar : Codesria,, 2005, pp. 36-67.
White, B. W., 2002, ‘Congolese Rumba and Other Cosmopolitanisms’, Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines, 168, XLII, Paris, pp.663-686.
White, W. B., 2008, Rumba Rules: The Politics of Dance Music in Mobutu’s Zaire, Duke University Press.

Co-organisers: Leon Tsambu , University of Kinshasa ( leon.tsambu@gmail.com )
Joseph Trapido, University of Pretoria (Joe.Trapido@up.ac.za )
Members: Sara MCGuinness, Tom Salter, Joe Trapido, and Leon Tsambu.


About Congo Research Network

The Congo Research Network (CRN) is a community of researchers working on DR Congo and its diaspora across the Humanities


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