Graham St John on Mon, 3 Feb 2014 21:27:42 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime-ann> CFP: Weekend Societies -- Electronic Dance Music Festivals and Event-Cultures

Please find below the call for contributors for a new book I'm editing
called Weekend Societies. Contact me for any inquiries.


CFP. Weekend Societies: Electronic Dance Music Festivals and

A volume edited by Graham St John (forthcoming, 2015)

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) festivals have flourished worldwide over
the last 25 years. From massive raves sprouting around the London
orbital at the turn of the 1990s to events operated under the control of
corporate empires, EDM festivals have developed into cross-genre,
multi-city, transnational mega-events. From free party teknivals
proliferating across Europe since the mid-1990s to colossal attractions
like Belgium’s Tomorrowland, and from neotribal gatherings like Southern
California’s Lightning in a Bottle and other “transformational”
festivals, to such digital arts and new media showcases as Montreal’s
MUTEK and Berlin’s Club Transmediale, EDM festivals are platforms for a
variety of arts, lifestyles, industries and policies. Unlicensed
paroxysms, sanctioned extravaganzas, aesthetic frontiers, activist
mobilisations, colonies of cosmopolitanism, they occasion manifold
cultural practices, performed by multitudes to a cornucopia of ends.

The present proliferation of EDM festivals is an echo of the profusion
of dance cultures and their night and day worlds. These weekend
societies strike interest for cultural researchers as they are exemplary
among event-cultures that have grown ubiquitous in contemporary social
and cultural life, providing their memberships with identification and
recognition independent from traditional sources. And yet event-cultural
movements are diverse in their organisation, intention and populations.
>From the occupation of a former Soviet airbase at Lärz, Germany (Fusion
Festival) to the repurposing of the RAF’s Long Marston Airfield at
Stratford-upon-Avon (Global Gathering), from ethically-charged and
“boutique” events with commitments to local regions and indigenous
communities to subsidiaries of entertainment conglomerates (e.g. SFX
Entertainment) touring multiple nations annually, EDM festivals are
expressions of “freedoms” that are revolutionary and recreational.
Co-created do-ocracies inspired by Burning Man or corporate sponsored
bureaucracies in the mould of Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, churches of
genre or ecumenical free-for-alls, DJ-driven or fusional by design,
offering sustainable solutions or orgies of excess, with habitués
worshipping brand-name DJs or showing support for independent sound
systems, diversity is evident across management styles, performance
legacies and modes of participation.

>From Jamaica’s SumFest to Detroit's Movement Electronic Music Festival
to Portugal’s Boom Festival, EDM festivals have become stages for the
performance of meta-cultural aesthetics (e.g. dancehall, techno and
psychedelic) and their potential synthesis. With Barcelona’s Sónar,
Serbia’s Exit, and Mexico’s BPM as examples, events became critical
vectors in regional service and tourism industries. Attracting worldwide
festivalgoers, sometimes as pilgrims, other times as tourists, these
events serve as cultural crossroads. With stakeholders and ticketholders
carrying disparate motives, styles and expectations they are contested
sites and realms of potential. As cultural flashpoints, EDM festivals
continually incite fledgling operations under variable missions:
reclaiming tradition, maintaining independence, selling culture,
evolving the human condition, all transpiring at the verges of the

Contributors might address how event operations expose differences,
create distinctions and enable possibilities. Does event management
demonstrate the repression, regulation and co-optation of culture? Are
they vehicles for cultural appropriation? Fields for the accumulation of
cultural capital? Frontiers of innovation and originality? Expressions
of cognitive liberty? Theatres for dramatizing alternatives? Do
participants reclaim the past or embrace the future? What gender,
sexuality, class, race and ethnic distinctions might their operation
expose? How do cultural and commercial interests, heritage and
cosmopolitan concerns, intersect in these carnivals of conviviality?

Contributors might focus on the unique fates of individual EDM
festivals, sometimes evolving from impromptu parties into corporate
empires, other times succumbing to co-optation and repression. To
provide several examples: Emerging in the late 1980s amid the euphoria
of reunification, Berlin’s Love Parade ended in disaster in 2010 when 21
people died in a crowd crush in Duisburg. Held annually in the Czech
Republic from 1994, the free party teknival CzechTek was finally
dispersed by an army of riot police in 2005 sparking a wave of protests.
Commencing in 1997 as a Los Angeles rave and later becoming a major
touring event, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway edition of the Electric
Daisy Carnival self-identifies as “the world’s largest EDM festival”
(attracting 300,000+ people in 2012). And born in 1995 at the unfinished
Crimean Atomic Energy Station near Shchelkino, Ukraine, the "virtual
republic" of KaZantip is recognised as the world’s longest running EDM
festival (five weeks). As studies of these and other EDM festivals will
illustrate, a complex array of regional, economic, social, cultural and
political factors combine to determine the fate of single events
transpiring at the intersections of the local and global, leisure and
religion, spirituality and technology, repression and revolution,
counterculture and capitalism.

This volume encourages contributions from scholars of EDM festivals
interested in these and related developments. Contributions from all
disciplines, research methods and theoretical perspectives are
encouraged. Authors may deploy a variety of representational styles,
from auto-ethnography and ethnomusicology to historical documentation
and socio-cultural analysis.

The following are suggested themes (the list is not exhaustive):

EDM festival histories and cultures
Festival economies
Entertainment empires
The commodification of experience
EDM events and cultural heritage
State controls and regulation
Law enforcement and intervention
Harm reduction
Global cities and urban regeneration
Teknivals and independent sound systems
Festivals vs gatherings
Management practices (e.g. corporate, cooperative, co-creative)
Festival travellers, tourists and pilgrims
Event design
DJ performance
Sonic cultures
Genre wars
Queer worlds
Cultural appropriation
Meta-genres and aesthetics
Visual art and new media
Drugs, prohibition and use
Psychopharmacology and sensibilities
Social media
Mobile apps
Touring festivals
Festival circuits

Please submit a 250–300 word abstract of your proposed chapter with a
short biography to Graham St John ( by March 30,

Approved chapters will be due by November 30 2014 (chapters will be
strictly 7,000–8,000 words long - including references and endnotes).

Direct any inquiries to Graham St John:

Dr Graham St John  |   Postdoctoral Research Fellow
2014 SNSF project: Burning Progeny: The European Efflorescence of
Burning Man
Université de Fribourg
Science des religions
Bd de Pérolles 90
CH-1700 Fribourg
tel : +41 (0) 789139653

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