The ‘if’ of ifPOP puts a question mark next to the notion of the “popular”: not all the music the project takes in its purview may be populist, commercialised, or mainstream. Yet “pop” captures the ethos of a vernacular – that which develops independent of institutions and formal training – and provides a starting point to unravel the histories and debates for which “popular” serves as a placeholder.
ifPOP’s intellectual project is to develop critical frameworks from an African context to trace the creative strategies and social dynamics of popular musics in South Africa. Through a series of public talks, symposia, performances, and conversations, it interrogates the ways that the notion of the popular finds expression and is challenged in Africa.
Why a Forum?
A forum is a platform for debate and exchange, and captures the public dimension of the project.
ifPOP embraces a spirit of collaboration, notably between
The idea of a forum is significant: in Roman times it was a public space (often a square or a market)
where matters of public concern were discussed. In more recent usage, the internet Forum is a virtual
space where a virtual community share ideas, and tap into each other’s knowledge and experience.
IfPop is conceived as a forum, embracing the public dimension of popular music, but also in
acknowledgment of how knowledge has shifted. It’s not only the preserve of specialists, but also
something that resides within a community and something that is gained through practice and
experience. IfPop strives to bring knowledges that exist within music communities and among music
practitioners into the academic space.