IASPM Benelux/KVNM 2015 Popular Music Thesis Prize Awarded

The jury for this year’s IASPM and KVNM Popular Music Thesis Prize has adjudicated the entries and chosen the winners from 4 BA and 5 MA entries with topics ranging from digitization in the music industry, Hungarian folk singing, gender and death metal in Norway, to Romanticism in the work of Led Zeppelin and music preferences in relation to depression in Dutch adolescence.

The jury consisted of previous MA winner Bram Nigten, Dr. Lutgard Mutsears (popular music researcher, eidtor of Made In Holland), Job de Wit (popular music and cinema journlalist), and Hans Fidom (KVNM board member and musicologist at the Vrije Universiteit).

Although this year we received a smaller number of entries than in previous years, many were of very high quality and the rankings were very close, with ties for the number two positions.

The jury and Board of IASPM Benelux and KVNM would like to congratulate:

Tessa Mol (BA Department of Arts, Culture and Media, University of Groningn) for winning the BA Thesis Prize with her thesis:

Hey miss dj! Wat kunnen dj-netwerken doen aan het tekort aan vrouwelijke dj’s?

Abstract: In deze scriptie wordt gekeken naar hoe het komt dat vrouwen in de dance-industrie in 2015 nog steeds sterk ondervertegenwoordigd zijn en onderhevig zijn aan vooroordelen. Dit onderzoek richt zich op de vraag waar deze vooroordelen vandaan komen en hoe het komt dat er zo weinig vrouwen werkzaam zijn als dj of producer in de Europese dance scene. Specifiek wordt gekeken naar hoe vrouwelijke dj-netwerken iets kunnen betekenen voor vrouwelijke dj’s, in zowel positieve als negatieve zin. Om dit te onderzoeken wordt het internationale collectief Female Pressure gebruikt als case study. De hoofdvraag luidt: ‘’Wat kan een dj-collectief als Female Pressure betekenen voor het tekort aan vrouwelijke dj’s in de huidige Europese dance scene?’’
Binnen het onderzoek naar hoe vrouwelijke dj’s gerepresenteerd worden in de dance scene, zullen de onderzoeksmethoden bestaan uit een discoursanalyse en literatuuronderzoek binnen het theoretisch perspectief van cultural studies. Hierbij wordt voornamelijk gekeken vanuit het perspectief van gender studies en meer algemene theorieën over power relations en de representatie van vrouwen in de popmuziek. Er wordt een beeld geschetst van (het ontstaan van) de huidige dance scene in Europa door middel van gevonden literatuur en interviews uit blogs, tijdschriften en televisieprogramma’s. Hiernaast wordt gekeken naar algemene theorieën over genderperformativiteit, subcultural capital en de rol van de vrouw in de popmuziek. Vervolgens wordt aan de hand van theorieën over DiY en gatekeeping het voorbeeld van Female Pressure bestudeerd en geanalyseerd. De voor- en nadelen van een vrouwelijk dj-collectief worden tegen elkaar afgewogen om uiteindelijk tot een conclusie te komen over wat Female Pressure kan betekenen voor vrouwen in de huidige Europese dance scene.


Fardo Eringa (MA Department of Religious Studies, Univeristy of Groningen) for the winning the MA Thesis Prize with her thesis

Being a Michael Jackson Pilgrim: Dedicated to a Never-Ending Journey.

Abstract: This thesis studies the phenomenon of ‘Michaeling’, the act wherein Michael Jackson fans embark upon a journey during which they try to emulate the life and spirit of Michael Jackson. Utilizing insights from the field of (contemporary) religion, religion and popular culture and studies of confessional and secular pilgrimage, this research examines the experiences of eleven Michael Jackson ‘pilgrims’ and the Michael Jackson pilgrimage site in Munich, Germany. The study aims to answer whether the experience of these ‘pilgrims’ can be interpreted as a ‘real’ pilgrimage and an expression of (implicit) religion arisen as a result of modern post-secular society. This research is embedded in a broader discussion of the way in which religion and pilgrimage are changing in the face of modernity. Based on my findings, I argue that the phenomenon of ‘Michaeling’ can be interpreted as a real pilgrimage. Moreover, I argue that ‘Michaeling’ can be understood as an example of the way in which religion is taking on different shapes in modern, post-secular society through a relation to pop music. This study suggests that religious scholars should be conscious of expressions of religion outside of traditional confessional contexts, such as popular fan culture. Consequently, this research questions whether it is useful for scholars of contemporary religion and pilgrimage to stick to linguistic, theoretical debates about definitions of religion and pilgrimage. Instead, this study takes on a very practical approach including the important field of popular music studies and studies the phenomenon of ‘Michaeling’ from a bottom-up approach: the experiences of the eleven pilgrim accounts are central.

Mol’s thesis provided concrete evidence of the persistant obsticles presented by gendered networks in the electronic dance music scene by drawing from research within the fields of popular music, cutlural studies, gender theory, and the music industry.

Eringa’s thesis aptly integrated the two fields of religious studies and popular music to make bold claims about how religiousity, pilgrimage, and spirituality are finding voice in the world of poular music fandome and the pulic domain.

Both students will provide short presentations of their research at the upcoming EUROSONIC Conference in Groningen on Jan. 16th at 13:30. If you are enrolled for this conference, please consider attending to learn about the exciting research of popular music students in the Netherlands.

Yours sincerely,

Kristin McGee (Chair, IASPM Benelux and board member KVNM)

Published by Kristin McGee

Chair of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music Benelux Professor of Popular Music at the University of Groningen

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