University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
July 13-17, 2009
The meeting of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music in Liverpool was full of excellent papers from scholars around the globe. Sociologists, anthropologists, musicologists, ethnomusicologists, geographers, urbanists, and others presented work on the practice, expressive meanings and significance of popular music in a wide variety of cultural contexts.
Of particular interest (to me and the packed classroom) was Sara Cohen’s current work on musicians’ maps of the city. Asking musicians to both narrate and draw maps of their careers, Cohen showed how different demographic groups, represented by their participation in indie rock and hip-hop, experience the city differently. These differences have consequences for culture-led urban regeneration, which has tended to focus on rock histories and spaces over other genres. Yet even for rock artists, venues, rehearsal spaces and even residences have been displaced by gentrification. It was fascinating to later visit this city as a music tourist after reading Cohen’s work on Liverpool!