”Disciplining Music Heritage” conference

The next IASPM-Norden Conference takes on the topic of music heritage in Seinäjoki 13–14 October 2022

KUVA: Etelä-Karjalan museo / Aarne Mikonsaari

The two-day conference is organised jointly by the Nordic branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) and the Finnish Society for Ethnomusicology and hosted by the University of the Arts Helsinki at its Seinäjoki Unit, with support from History Forum.

Call for presentations

Music is deeply implicated in issues of intangible cultural heritage (ICH), and to further critical interdisciplinary investigation into the topic, the Nordic branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM-Norden) and the Finnish Society for Ethnomusicology (SES) cordially invite all interested individuals to participate in the conference. As the title of the event evinces, a central aim is to interrogate the disciplinary boundaries, frameworks and repercussions when dealing with music as heritage. In addition to takes on academic disciplinary politics and idiosyncratic whims of scholarship, the organisers invite proposals addressing all levels and settings of music heritagisation, ranging from global organisations and national authorities to local tourist boards and municipal administration of creative industries. 

Suitable themes and topics include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • Theory and definitions of music heritage. Scholarly debate about music heritagisation has increased tremendously in recent years. For instance, roughly two thirds of the peer-reviewed articles that mention “music heritage” have been published after 2010. Additionally, special academic journal issues have been devoted to popular music and jazz festivals. But how exactly is music heritage defined and conceptualised in this discussion; are certain genres and repertoires deemed heritage more readily than others, and what is the weight of disciplinary settings and distinctions in the process? How do ethnomusicology, popular music studies and heritage studies interrelate as they engage with music as intangible cultural heritage? Is “heritage music”, as suggested by some, simply a new type of “popular music”, and if so, how might such a reconceptualisation affect the logic of categorising music in general?
  • Politics of music heritage. It may be argued that “heritage” is primarily a value, not a thing, and that instead of asking whether something is heritage or not, it is more pertinent to consider how heritage is done. Thus potentially anything can become heritage, raising immediate questions about the power relations and vested interests involved. Given the tendency to associate musical styles and genres with ethnicity, gender and subcultural formations in particular, at issue here is how music heritagisation interlinks with the construction of cultural identities. What are the ideological underpinnings at work, and how does music heritage become implicated in the dynamics of social and cultural inclusion and exclusion? What kind of explicit and implicit motivations and goals are involved when constructing music as heritage in different disciplinary environments? As heritage inevitably mobilises ideas of a common past, questions about music heritage are further tied to the dynamics of cultural memory and the disciplinary politics of music historiography; what are the social and cultural groups whose music is being remembered, historicised and heritagised, and how and why?
  • Music in the official lists of intangible cultural heritage. Since 2008, over three hundred phenomena relating to music and dance have been inscribed in the UNESCO ICH lists (ich.unesco.org), ranging from ones in need of urgent safeguarding such as Sega tambour Chagos of Mauritius, to globally widespread idioms representative of humanity, as Reggae music of Jamaica. Depending on definitions, the lists are dominated by forms of traditional music, alluding to questions about the importance or even dominance of ethnomusicological expertise in music-related ICH administration, and relatedly, about the role of UNESCO in sanctioning ethnomusicology as a field of heritage expertise. Also, the UNESCO framework stipulates that national heritage agencies maintain their own ICH lists.
  • Music heritage, tourism and local branding. Music is often used in promoting certain locales, and especially in urban contexts styles and artists of popular music are exploited as indicators of vibrant creativity. The initiative for such action may originate from municipal economic interests, but is sanctioned on a global level again by UNESCO through its Creative Cities Network. Alongside Kingston and Liverpool, the network includes forty cities ranging from Adelaide and Amarante to Veszprém and Vranje. Here, relevant avenues of scrutiny include local branding as heritagisation (or vice versa), interconnections between heritage, creative industries and urban renewal, as well as dynamics of urbanisation in general. Moreover, at issue are the ways in which music and heritage are disciplined in the context of tourism, by tourist offices and travellers alike.
  • Music heritage and interdisciplinarity. The levels and frameworks of disciplining music heritage are interconnected, especially through the reliance of global and national decision-making on scholarly expertise. In the field of ethnomusicology, for instance, the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) is in formal consultative relations with UNESCO. But does this mean that ethnomusicology is more concerned with the conventional safeguarding paradigms of heritage management than popular music studies, where the emphasis is arguably on critical heritage studies, and that there is seldom any collaboration between the fields? This leads further to questions about how the notion of heritage relates to ideals of multi-, inter- and transdisciplinarity, especially as ethnomusicology, popular music studies and critical heritage studies alike tend to be celebrated as such, sometimes even in a self-aggrandising fashion.

In addition to presentations addressing the designated conference theme, all other topics falling within the remit of IASPM or SES are welcome.

Alongside conventional conference papers, panels and posters, the organisers welcome other presentation forms as well (e.g., films, workshops). Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words, preferably as a PDF file, to discipliningmusicheritage@gmail.com, no later than 15 April 2022. 

Please make sure to include in your abstract:

  • the name(s) of presenter(s) and their affiliation(s)
  • the title of the presentation
  • the text body, explicating the objective, materials and methods
  • no more than five keywords

If you are proposing a full panel with individual presentations, please include an abstract of each presentation alongside a brief summary of the panel. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by 15 May 2022.

Presenter info

You may still make changes to your abstract. Please make sure to submit your revised abstract at discipliningmusicheritage@gmail.com by September 16. The abstracts will be compiled into a printable booklet on the conference webpage before the event.

The conference presentations are 20 minutes + 10 minutes of discussion (or 30 minutes altogether if you wish to divide your time differently). Please bring your presentation (PowerPoint) with you on a memory stick. We also recommend you save your presentation to a cloud or email as a backup. 

Should you have specific technical requirements or questions regarding your presentation, please be in touch with us at discipliningmusicheritage@gmail.com in advance.


The conference registration is now open.
Registration fees
-60 € for IASPM and SES members, (doctoral) students, retired, unwaged
-100 € for others 

Please complete your registration by 10 October.

Conference program

Thursday 13 October
10.30– Registration opens
11.00–12.00 Opening Antti-Ville Kärjä and keynote 1 Barley Norton: Beyond Disciplining Music Heritage? Some Reflections on Heritage Making in Vietnam (Hugo)
12.15–13.45 Sessions 1 (“spaces”, Kammio) and 2 (“ethnographies”, Hugo)
13.45–15.00 Lunch
15.00–16.30 Session 3 (“Finnish popular music and the populist dark heritage”, Hugo)
16.45–17.30 Keynote 2 Rosa Reitsamer: Popular Music Museums and Archives: A Queer-Feminist Perspective (Hugo)
17.30–18.00 Coffee
18.00–19.00 Finnish Folk Music Institute showcase (Hugo)

20.00–22.00 Dinner at restaurant Lakeus Matador, Torikatu 2, 60100 Seinäjoki

Friday 14 October
10.30– Registration
11.00–11.45 Keynote 3 Sverker Hyltén-Cavallius: Music heritagization from archive to subreddit: reflections on performance, play and power (Hugo)
12.00–13.00 Sessions 4 (“education and dialogues”, Kammio) and 5 (“modes and styles”, Hugo)
13.00–14.15 Lunch
14.15–15.45 Session 6 (“popular reconfigurations”, Hugo)
16.00–17.00 Keynote 4 Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco: Musical Heritage Praxis: A Critical Reflection, and closing, Antti-Ville Kärjä (Hugo)

(+21.00 Niko Kivelä Kommunikaatio at Rytmikorjaamo, Vaasantie 11, 60100 Seinäjoki, – Stand-up and rock performance, in Finnish only, price 15 € at the door)

1) Spaces
Chair: Kimi Kärki
-Tegelman, Airin: It All Started at the Lesser Free Trade Hall – Narrating Spaces of Popular Music Heritage
-Peltomäki, Anna: The Rocking Monuments of Juankoski, Finland: Juice’s Square as a shifting popular music heritage site 1986–2019
-Schelvis, Sydney: Drum ’n Bass: Rolling and flowing through Amsterdam and beyond

2) Ethnographies
Chair: Barley Norton
-Pessina, Leandro: Music heritage, tourism and local branding. A tourist ethnography of music in Co.Louth in the summer of 2022
-Hytönen-Ng, Elina: Do I have the right to do laments? Autoethnographical study on the Karelian lamenting tradition 
-Vaizman, Tal: Music and Lyrics: Cultural Identity of Immigrants and the Consumption of Songs from the Country of Origin

3) Finnish popular music and the populist dark heritage (full panel)
Chair: Jörgen Torp
-Kallioniemi, Kari: Exploitative and complicated aesthetic legacy of fascism in Finlandization era popular music
-Mustamo, Aila: Black metal and politics
-Kärki, Kimi: Finnish neofolk: Nature, heritage, and entryist fascism

4) Education and dialogues
Chair: Rosa Reitsamer
-Ferm Almqvist, Cecilia (with contribution by Ann Werner): Music conservatories’ disciplining of Music Heritage and Music Heritage’s discipling of Conservatory education – aspects of gender and nation in classical music
-Timonen, Vilma: Re-thinking the space for intangible musical heritage in formal music education
5) Modes and styles
Chair: Elina Seye
-Polyzoidis, Nassos: Rebetiko modes in a contemporary context: dromoi brightness, mirrors, and families 
-van Kan, Mischa: From Future to Past: Electronic Music as Music Heritage

6) Popular reconfigurations
Chair: Nassos Polyzoidis
-Geyer, Carolin: Researching musical fit in social media touristic short videos (with contribution by Dawn Rose and Melanie Wyss)
-Järvenpää, Tuomas: Hip-hop dance as an aesthetic intervention in Finnish Christianity
-Torp, Jörgen: What are the fields about? Traditional, heritage and popular music (and dance)

Abstracts book

Here you may download and print the abstracts for the conference. Link opens in new window.

Guest speakers and further information

The organisers are happy to announce Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco (NOVA University Lisbon), Sverker Hyltén-Cavallius (Swedish Performing Arts Agency, Stockholm), Barley Norton (Goldsmiths, University of London) and Rosa Reitsamer (University of Music and Performing Arts Wien) as guest speakers at the conference.

Conference committee:

  • Chair: Antti-Ville Kärjä, University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland
  • Secretary: Anna Peltomäki, University of Turku, Finland
  • Jelena Gligorijevic, University of Turku, Finland
  • Juho Kaitajärvi-Tiekso, University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland
  • Mischa van Kan, Linnæus University, Sweden
  • Elina Westinen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

The conference is hosted by the Seinäjoki Unit of the University of the Arts Helsinki. Seinäjoki is a regional urban centre located some 300 km north from Helsinki and served by several direct train connections daily. The conference is supported by History Forum of the University of the Arts Helsinki.

Enquiries about the conference should be sent to conference secretary Anna Peltomäki at discipliningmusicheritage@gmail.com.


13.10.2022 – 14.10.2022


Seinäjoki unit of the University of Arts

Kalevan Navetta

Nyykoolinkatu 25

60100 Seinäjoki


Registration fees
-60 € for IASPM and SES members, (doctoral) students, retired, unwaged
-100 € for others


The above fees are valid until Sun 30 September after which they will be raised to 100 € and 140 €, respectively.

Please complete your registration by 10 October.


Location on map

See directions