Okategoriserade Call for Abstracts

Call for Abstracts (until January 31, 2024) for the Special Issue of Baltic Worlds "Sounds in times of war. Popular Music, (contentious) politics and social change since Russia's war on Ukraine"

Published on balticworlds.com on November 28, 2023

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Sounds in Times of War. Popular Music, (Contentious) Politics and Social Change Since Russia’s War on Ukraine

Guest Editors: Anna Schwenck (Siegen University), Aleksej Tikhonov (UZH Zurich), David-Emil Wickström (Popakademie Baden-Württemberg)

Popular music has time and again played a crucial role in social movements. Examples are Estonia’s Singing Revolution or Ukrainian artists like Ruslana, Vopli Vidopliassova and Okean El’zy that were involved in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. This special theme-section explores the relationship between music, politics, and societal dynamics amidst the ongoing Russian war on Ukraine. Exploring the period following the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea until today, this special theme-section seeks to examine music’s multifaceted roles in reflecting, shaping, and responding to the political landscape, propaganda, and societal sentiments. Though the Russian war on Ukraine is this issue’s focus, we also invite contributions discussing topics closely related to the war and its repercussions such as the pro-democratic protests in Belarus criticizing the fraudulent elections in 2020.

The articles should discuss the significance of (popular) music, its role in political mobilization, its utilization as a tool of symbolic politics, as a means to express support or dissent. Not least, how does music function as a medium of identification and positioning in the context of the ongoing war? Central aspects of analyses are the sonic material, lyrics, the languages used in the lyrics (including code-switching), memes, the narratives told and the images shown in music videos as well as the interplay between these elements. Furthermore, this special issue scrutinizes intertextual references. How are songs reinterpreted in cover versions and remixes? In which ways have musical pieces including folkloric, Pre-Soviet and Soviet material been adapted or repurposed to convey messages that now align with political and mobilizational narratives about Russia’s war on Ukraine or Russia’s continued role as a regional power in the post-Soviet space?

This special theme-section also asks how a decolonial lens might be productive to analyze the war and its repercussions in the broader region. In addition to Ukraine this call also is open to examining pivotal events in Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, and Russia such as the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and anti-war/pro-democratic protests in Belarus (especially after the contested elections in 2020) as well as Russia. What were these events’ roles in a struggle for participation and decolonization and in which ways do they express power struggles between a colonial center and periphery? This said, papers examining similar issues in other former Soviet republics like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania, are also welcome.

This interdisciplinary special theme-section invites contributions from various academic disciplines, including but not limited to Popular Music and Sound Studies, Linguistics, Sociology, History, (Ethno-) Musicology, Literature Studies, Media, and Cultural Studies. Exploring the complex interplay between music, politics, and societal processes during the ongoing war is fostered through combining analyses from scholars working in these and related disciplines.

Please email your abstract (max. 250 words) plus a short CV (max. 100 words) to the guest editors at music_conflict_balticworlds@d-ew.info

We explicitly welcome contributions by scholars from the regions discussed in this call. If you are at risk and/or have difficulties submitting a contribution in English, please let us know.

Possible contributions

  • Peer reviewed articles

  • Scholarly essays

  • Interviews

  • Book and/or concert reviews

  • Poetry and other suggested formats


Deadline Abstracts: by January 31, 2024
Deadline Articles: July 31, 2024

Estimated publication: second quarter of 2025


Guest editors: Anna Schwenck (Siegen University), Aleksej Tikhonov (UZH Zurich), David-Emil Wickström (Popakademie Baden-Württemberg) – music_conflict_balticworlds@d-ew.info