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The International Association for the Study of Popular Music, or IASPM, is the world’s largest (non-profit) organisation dedicated to the study of popular music, understood in its broadest meaning, from novelty and vaudeville over Christian Rock and K-pop to EDM and grime, and much more in between and beyond. IASPM has an interprofessional and interdisciplinary scope, and intends to act as a global network of popular music scholars from various disciplines (cultural studies, musicology, communication sciences, performance studies, economy, psychology, law,…), performing musicians (professional and amateur), and representatives from the popular music industries and media. For a more detailed mission statement, see the IASPM website.
IASPM currently counts fifteen local branches (please find a list with appropriate links here) and membership numbers run well into the hundreds. IASPM Benelux is the IASPM branch that represents the Netherlands and Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, the French-speaking part of Belgium is represented by IASPM Francophone d’Europe). In Flanders and the Netherlands, IASPM Benelux is the only academic organisation that unites local popular music scholars, around 50 members, from BA students to established professors. The Benelux branch is headed by a five-piece board comprising scholars from various institutions (Universiteit van Amsterdam, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Universiteit Antwerpen) and from various disciplines (e.g. cultural and historical musicology, performance studies, cultural studies).
IASPM Benelux board
The board of IASPM Benelux comprises:
• Oliver Seibt, chair
• Chris Tonelli, secretary
• Femke Vandenberg, treasurer and membership liaison
• Matthias Heyman, communications and (social) media liaison
• Melanie Schiller, member at large
(In issue 2 of volume 9 of the IASPM Journal (2019), our board member Melanie wrote a status quo (vadis) report on our branch, covering not only much of our history, but also the “current state of popular music studies and research in the Netherlands and Flanders as well as outlines some of its future challenges” (Schiller 2019). The entire essay can be read via this link, but we quote some of its sections below. When quoting or paraphrasing any of the content under ‘Our history’ and ‘Our activities,’ please reference the original work: Schiller, M. 2019. Popular Music Studies in the Low Countries: Status Quo Vadis IASPM Benelux. IASPM Journal 9 (2): 75–82. https://iaspmjournal.net/index.php/IASPM_Journal/article/view/965/pdf)
Considering that the First International Conference on Popular Music Research (organized by Gerard Kempers) was held in Amsterdam in June 1981, and as a result of which IASPM was founded, it can be said that the Benelux have been fundamental to the association’s establishment and subsequent international growth from the very beginning (Tagg 2005). The local Benelux branch was established three years later (and officially registered at the chamber of commerce in 1987), which makes it one of the oldest local branches of the association. Since its early days, the branch and its members have always been active in international contexts and discourses, with a deep understanding of the transnational and transcultural character of popular music as cultural practice and as an object of academic study. Since the beginning, the aim has been to connect people involved in the study of popular music from different countries, disciplines, and professions – goals the IASPM Benelux branch is still committed to. This international orientation and transdisciplinary character of the branch is ideologically grounded but also pragmatically motivated; considering the size of the region, its geographic location, and the small scope of academics involved in popular music research in the Low Countries, exchanges beyond national, institutional and professional boundaries are essential for the field of popular music studies in the Benelux (Schiller 2019: 75).
Since the turn of the century the branch has organized several international branch conferences in Amsterdam (2001), Haarlem (2010), Rotterdam (2014), in collaboration with the francophone branch in Luik (2015), and it is currently preparing the upcoming conference in Antwerp on the topic of “RE-peat, please” scheduled to take place in October 2021. Besides these larger events and involvement in other IASPM activities like the 2017 international conference in Kassel and reviewing articles for IASPM Journal, the branch regularly organizes smaller workshops, study days and one-day symposia on specific topics like: “Dance Music and the Creative City” (Groningen 2011), “Sound, Gods and the Nation” (Amsterdam 2012), “Sonic Territories: POP and THE CITY” (Amsterdam 2013), “the local and the global in cultures of popular music” (Groningen 2014), or “Festival Cultures” (Groningen 2015) to name but a few. An important milestone for the Benelux branch was certainly also the publication of the volume Made in the Low Countries in the Routledge Studies in Popular Music series, edited by Lutgard Mutsaers and Gert Keunen (2017)
One of the priorities of the Benelux branch has been supporting and inspiring the young generation of popular music researchers. To that end, the branch has started a new conference series in 2016: the annual IASPM Benelux student conference (Groningen 2016, Amsterdam 2017, Rotterdam 2018, Utrecht 2019), which is organized in close collaboration with students to offer the next generation of popular music scholars valuable experiences in conference organization and participation, in presenting their work, receiving feedback and engaging in academic networking and exchange. Another cornerstone in promoting the study of popular music in the region has been the annual Popular Music Thesis Prize for the best Bachelor and Master thesis about popular music written in the Netherlands, awarded by a jury of music professionals, journalists, and academics from different disciplines; until 2016 awarded in collaboration with the Royal Society for Music History (KVNM), and since 2017 with the Association of Dutch Music Venues and Festival (VNPF) (Schiller 2019: 76).
(BELOW STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION)
Naast de lokale afdeling biedt IASPM International de volgende activiteiten. Om het jaar organiseert IASPM International een internationale conferentie waaraan alle IASPM leden kunnen deelnemen. Inmiddels hebben zeventien van dergelijke conferenties plaatsgevonden. Het volgende internationale congres staat gepland voor juni 2021 in Daegu, Zuid-Korea.
In samenwerking met de Cambridge University Press geeft IASPM International drie maal per jaar het tijdschrift ‘Popular Music’ uit.
Tenslotte heeft IASPM International een (besloten) mailinglist, die IASPM-leden in diverse landen de mogelijkheid biedt tot uitwisseling van informatie en discussie.