Sound System Outernational # 6 São Luís do Maranhão, Brazil
Call for Participation – Papers, Presentations and Performances

Dates: April 13, 14 and 15, 2020
Deadline for submission of proposals: January 17, 2020
Abstracts / proposals (200 to 500 words in English or Portuguese) by January 17 2020, to

Vibrations United: Music, Technology & Diaspora

SSO # 6 is being held in São Luís, capital of the state of Maranhão largely because this city is the Jamaica of Brazil. Since the 1970s São Luís is the place in the world – besides where Jamaica itself and the United Kingdom – where reggae music has being living and growing as the popular culture of the people. Reggae is now rooted in this exuberant state of northeastern Brazil, marked by the resistance of the quilombolas (maroons) and the indigenous people to the European invasion and its consequences, building a society of great vitality and traditional expression, but where was allowed itself to reverberate intensely by reggae music, in a celebration of the black diaspora. This process vibrated from the beginning through radiolas, no less than local versions of Jamaican sound systems. Adopted primarily among the less favored social strata, this culture is today an unavoidable reference in the region for all classes and ages.

As with the previous five SSO events and especially the most recent one in April 2019 in Naples, Italy, this event will draw very substantially on the support and participation of local sound system professionals and their audiences, local reggae and educational institutions, as well as local and international researchers and artists.

With the theme Vibrations United: Music, Technology & Diaspora the main subject of the event is the alternative culture of sound systems that offers us new possibilities for coexistence and occupation of public spaces in large cities and in the countryside. Reggae sound system vibrations are shaking objects, people, and concepts, currently establishing sonic connections between practitioners, scholars and admirers in public spaces on five continents. Among the fastest-growing street cultures in the world today, sound crews that were materialized firstly by the people of Jamaica bring technology, music, attitudes, values, feelings, and thoughts to social classes, genders, ethnicities, identity definitions originated in the black diaspora and adopted by a pulsating human diversity. The implications of this planetary Caribbean culture for understanding our actions so far and for establishing new theoretical and practical lines of conduct will be the subject of discussion at this SSO event.

The conference is conceived as a space for discussion for academic but also practical resonance, including sound engeneering, performances and artistic presentations, exhibitions, sound systems sessions, workshops and other forms of expression. At the same time, the conference will be a sounding board for dialogues of such phenomena with diverse areas of thought, notably Cultural and Postcolonial Studies, Sound Studies, Popular Music Studies, Film Studies, Critical Black Studies and Caribbean Critical Theory.

Artists, engineers, musicians, selectors, academics, activists and all those directly or indirectly participating in the sound systems and radiolas culture are welcome. Contributions can be creative, practical, or research-based. It may be in the form of a workshop, talk, film screening, display, or demonstration. We welcome all engaging with sound system music, culture, community, gender, technology, dance, oral histories, graphics, business, marketing etc, especially from global and intergenerational perspectives.

Contributions will be welcome (but not limited to):

  • Brazilian and Latin American versions of sound system culture
  • Sound, technology and gender
  • Music, technology and black diaspora
  • Sound, music and migration
  • Auditory epistemologies
  • DIY sonic cultures and technologies
  • Sonic resistance and urban space
  • Sound, identity and technology
  • Vernacular knowledge and street technology

Vibrations United: Music, Technology & Diaspora was conceived to house partnerships between the Federal Institute of Maranhão (IFMA), Federal University of Maranhão (UFMA), State University of Maranhão (UEMA), Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and local social movement partners. Over three days and interacting with the city of São Luís and its inhabitants, in its rich academic, social, political and musical dimensions, the event includes lectures, roundtables, exhibitions and film screenings. It will also host sound system and radiola sessions with local and international artists in some of the city’s most iconic social spaces. The event will also provide the occasion for a SSO International Research Network meeting and the opportunity for a short-term research project in the São Luís radiolas scenario.

For more background on reggae in São Luís listen to this excellent radio documentary

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