On June 1st 2013, Performing Diaspora, a flagship project of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples, celebrated its 5th Annual commemoration of African Diaspora expressive culture at York University with a public history conference on the History of Urban Music in Toronto.
The 2013 project officially launched on February 4th 2013 with “Contemporary Griot,” a film showcase that featured a keynote address by Dr. Pablo Idahosa, two films (In Between Stories and War Child), and a discussion with Roda Siad (filmmaker) and Emmanuel Jal, the former child soldier on whose life the film War Child is based.
To round out this year’s festivities, the 2013 conference committee presented a one-day public history event on the History of Urban Music in Toronto. The conference brought together the work of budding Canadian Hip Hop scholars, legendary African Canadian Hip Hop artists (Maestro, Michie Mee, Dan-e-o, Motion & Minbender), music producers (Chris Jackson), radio and television personalities (DJ Mel Boogie, DJ X, Master T), journalists (Dalton Higgins & Del Cowie) and fans.
A landmark academic conference and act of community engagement, the conference was intended to highlight the histories and developments of urban music and the degree to which these new forms of music-making were accepted and integrated into the already existing Toronto music infrastructure of the post-WWII era. Urban music was employed as a lens to examine race, gender, sexuality, the body, concepts of immigration, multiculturalism, citizenship and discrimination, urban development, notions of “performing blackness” across the diaspora, and the politics of creating, sustaining and performing music that represents people of African descent in Toronto.
The conference has been recorded, and will be transcribed in an effort to collect the oral histories of the day’s participants and create a record of the diverse experiences under examination. In addition, the academic papers presented will also be published in a Performing Diaspora publication of working papers, published in the very near future.
The Performing Diaspora: History of Urban Music Organizing Committee:
Francesca D’Amico (Curator), Funke Aladejebi, Katharine Bausch & Amanda Girgis
More photos can be found here.