2013 Annual Chair's Report

PMS-SEM Annual Report – September 5, 2013

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PMS-SEM remains a vibrant organization with a healthy budget of $4355.49. We have @700 members on our listserv, and 238 members listed with the SEM Business office (though they may not all be paying dues).

Jennifer Milioto Matsue continued as Chair at the 2012 PMS-SEM Business Meeting in NOLA while Meryl Krieger stepped in and will continue as Secretary. We observed a moment of silence for Jan Fairley and David Sanjek. We agreed to a new system of approving minutes. Matsue shared updates on the PMS-SEM wiki website (http://pmssem.wikidot.com) and SEM link to sections, as well as how to join the listserv. Matsue agreed to contact the Chair of the Fair Use Subcommittee and then decided to disband this group as it is no longer active. The group considered the names of our prizes, and will bring a slight name change to the Waxer prize for approval at the business meeting this year. A committee was also formed to develop a name for the Keynote Lecture, which will be brought to the meeting for approval this year. Matsue moved that PMS revisit developing a Student Research Prize and the work of the Status of Popular Music Scholars. The group then discussed possible panel ideas for SEM in 2013.

Awards were given as follows:

The 2013 Richard Waterman Prize for the best article on popular music by a junior scholar is awarded to Andrew Eisenberg for his article “Hip-hop and Cultural Citizenship on Kenya’s Swahili Coast,” published in the journal Africa (v 82, issue 4, Nov 2012).

Chosen from among 15 articles submitted for the prize this year, published in 11 different journals1 and addressing popular music topics in scenes from Australia to Zimbabwe, Eisenberg’s article explores the dynamic musical world of urban youth in Kenya’s coastal port city of Mombasa. Combining evocative ethnography and media analysis with a sophisticated and interdisciplinary theoretical lens, Eisenberg demonstrates how “youth music”—primarily locally- produced hip-hop recordings and videos—articulates with some of the inherent tensions of Swahili coast identity. Noting the powerful presence of a Kenyan national self-image centered on its highland, predominantly Christian, and thus “African” population, Eisenberg probes the challenges encountered by young musicians and audiences in Mombasa who are “forced to grapple with their marginality as a practical and aesthetic problem” (p. 558) in representing their own predominantly coastal, Muslim, and deeply cosmopolitan heritage at the nexus of African, Arab, and Indian Ocean worlds. In Eisenberg’s analysis, rap music emerges as a particularly useful but also ambiguous form, its supple nature allowing for musical references to genres such as taarab and bhangra (rooted in the comings and goings of Indian Ocean trade and labor), while simultaneously and unavoidably referencing a Black Atlantic discourse of African aesthetics commonly associated with hip-hop.

While the content is of obvious interest and importance to scholars of East African popular music, Eisenberg’s compelling mix of detailed ethnographic observation and nuanced theoretical framing of the local and national politics of a globalized musical form merit a broad readership, and for this reason the committee is proud to award him the 2013 Richard Waterman Prize.

The 2012 Lise Waxer Prize (for a paper presented at last fall's meeting in NOLA) is awarded to Meredith Schweig of Harvard University for her paper, "That's a Rap?: Imagining the Multiple Origins of Taiwan Hip-Hop." The committee found Ms. Schweig's paper well situated and developed theoretically and historically, productively using "semiotic richness" (with a nod toward Thomas Turino) as a mechanism for understanding the place of rap in Taiwanese music culture. It is also balanced, acknowledging the diverse voices and views on the development of liam-kua as an outgrowth of or independent from rap music's American origins. Ms. Schweig's paper is focused, cogently presented and argued, and signals great potential for further research in this area.

Following the awards, volunteers were solicited to serve on the committees for the coming year. The group agreed to move to electronic submissions for prizes next year. And that it would be a good idea to invite winners of prizes to serve on the committee for the following year.

The organization is most appreciative of the hardwork of all committee members and especially the following for Chairing: Jonathan Ritter - Richard Waterman Prize, Joshua Duchan - Lise Waxer Prize, Katherine Metz - Keynote Speaker, Jeremy Wallach – Student Research Grant Committee, and Dennis Rathnaw – Satus of Popular Music Scholars.

Following the Business Meeting, Ann Powers gave the 2012 PMSSEM Keynote Address.

Respectfully submitted,
Jennifer Milioto Matsue, Chair