ASAP/Kingston: Cities of Music

Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present

June 5-7, 2020

Hosted by the National Gallery of Jamaica


Proposals for individual presentations accepted until March 30, 2020.



The 2020 ASAP symposium will take place in Kingston, a city that embodies our program theme: “Cities of Music.” In 2015, Kingston became one of UNESCO’s 47 Cities of Music. The capital of what is often described as the biggest small nation in the world, Kingston, like Jamaica more broadly, is known the world over not only as the birthplace of reggae and dancehall, but also as a place that continues to face the challenges of poverty and violence. It is in these and other ways emblematic of larger cultural, social, and economic transformations that have arisen globally in the last half-century. Though Kingston’s centrality as a national capital often arises in conversations about the global reach of Jamaican music and culture, Kingston is among the global cities that shape how we think about various states of post-ness—postcoloniality and post-nationalism, for example—in the new millennium. For instance, while the music of Jamaica’s urban areas reflects various facets of a postcolonial resistance to the impositions of nation and free market capital, Kingston itself literally and figuratively represents the instability and volatility of borders in ways that complicate how we imagine concepts like sovereignty, nation, and citizenship. Kingston’s designation as a City of Music demonstrates, moreover, how cultural capital acts as a mediating force in the construction and experience of nation and citizenship within geographical locations that are at once local and transnational.

The symposium welcomes paper abstracts on all forms of the arts from 1960 through the present that interpret the theme, “Cities of Music,” as widely and imaginatively as possible. Potential participants are invited to relate the symposium theme to their own cultural, aesthetic, generic, and disciplinary areas and contexts.

Some topics for consideration may include but are not limited to:

  • What is the role of programs like UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network in the creation and global circulation of art?
  • How does art imagine the relationship between creative activity and urban development?
  • How can an understanding of place, as cultivated by works of art, deepen our ability to engage and to imagine our collective destiny?
  • In what ways has music interacted, or stood apart from, other art forms in the last half-century?
  • How does music, as a phenomenon that is at once local and global in its production and distribution, allow us to rethink the nation as a form of political organization and as a site of imperial negotiation?


Submission Guidelines

Potential participants should submit a 250-word abstract and short biographical note by March 30, 2020, to the organizers at: Accepted participants will be notified by late April 2020.

The ASAP symposium format is distinct from our larger conference programming and is geared towards a more intimate, theme-based experience with a 30-40 participants primarily organized around panels of individual papers. See this webpage for more information on the symposium format:

Submission information, accommodation details, and registration costs will be available soon through the conference website. Questions may be addressed to Sheri-Marie Harrison at in the meantime.