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Archiving Hip Hop: 50 Years in the Making

Thu, 09/28/2023 - Fri, 09/29/2023
Registration deadline
Call for papers ending on

Milton Keynes
United Kingdom


With this conference and exhibition we want to highlight how global hip hop practitioners and hip hop scholars remember, historicise and archive the culture locally. The exhibition will bring to light memorabilia, artefacts and images from the local Milton Keynes hip hop scene from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s. We will invite local breakers, graffiti artists, emcees, deejays, musicians and knowledge producers to showcase their art and culture and reflect on the past and the future of hip hop in Milton Keynes, in the United Kingdom and in the world. Parallel to the exhibition, we will also host a conference, for which we will invite scholars and practitioners to examine how hip hop can be archived, what institutional and cultural challenges such archiving might entail and how we can work collaboratively with local scenes to represent the varied histories of hip hop in ways that are accurate and fair.

  • What happens when hip hop is exhibited in museums?
  • How can we archive hip hop knowledge, practices and artefacts?
  • What data repositories and hardware are necessary for archiving hip hop?
  • How can hip hop archives be funded, sustained and made accessible for the people?
  • How to deal with copyright and sampling? 
  • Who are hip hop archives for? 
  • How can universities and cultural organisations support hip hop archives?

Apart from standard academic talks and keynote addresses, the conference will also feature novel formats of knowledge production and dissemination, such as knowledge-droppin cyphers, graffiti literacies or scratchin-the-surface of ideas sessions. We want to emphasise that knowledge production within hip hop is both an intellectual and an embodied practice, so we explicitly invite participants to experiment with novel ways of presenting their ideas - in a hip hop way. If you are unsure about what could be possible, feel free to discuss your plans with us beforehand. Just drop us a message.

Keynote Speakers

  • Hanifa Queen, Artbreaker, Birmingham, UK (Instagram)
  • James Jessop, Graffiti Writing Obsessive, Glasgow, UK (Instagram)
  • Frederik Hahn (Instagram)
  • Bryan Vit (Instagram)
  • Kaptin Barrett, Hip Hop Coordinator at Amgueddfa Cymru / Museum, Wales (Instagram)
  • Silhouette Bushay, Senior Lecturer, Early Childhood and Education Studies, Universtiy of East London, UK (Instagram)
  • Anthony Gunter, Senior Lecturer, Childhood and Youth Studies, The Open University, UK (Profile)

We invite academics and hip hop scholars from around the world to participate and give 15-minute talks followed by discussions, either on-site or online. Please send 300-word abstracts with your ideas for a presentation to hiphop@open.ac.uk by Friday 30th June 2023.

Barry “DJ Kraze One” Watson,
Sas Amoah,
Marcus Young,
Claudia Torres Fernández,
Jaspal Singh
The Open University
Contact person
Barry Watson
Contact person email address
Black Minority and Ethnic Network