CfP: Korean Hip-hop and New Explorations of Afro-Asian Identity
Korean Hip-hop and New Explorations of Afro-Asian Identity
*Music Festival and Conference*
University of California, Irvine
October 7, 2019
Since Seo Taiji, rap has been a consistent force in Korean popular music. Some of the best Korean idol groups in recent years, such as Big Bang, BTS, and Mamamoo, all featured at least two rappers—making rap verses a discernible part of K-pop. The hit rap program, Show Me the Money has had ratings that have fared better even than idol audition programs. Korean hip-hop artists such as Keith Ape, Zico, and Jay Park enjoy global fame that reaches many youth and alternative club cultures around the world. However, while various academic events, conferences, panels, and even anthologies have discussed K-pop, hallyu, and the history of Korean popular music, the study of rap in the context of hallyu have been extremely rare. Academic articles that explore the sonic and linguistic aspects of Korean rap are also uncommon. Those that exist neither link Korean rap to the larger context of global hip-hop or the history of African American oral tradition. Likewise, while many scholars have taken a serious look at the relationship between post-colonial studies and Korean popular culture, hip-hop is rooted in African American culture. The study of race, especially on regions and populations that are less economically successful, has barely been carried out; just as K-pop has focused on success in the West, Korean Studies scholars are focused on white affluent Western interest in and linkages with Korean music.
Although outside Korean Studies there is a long history of scholarship on appropriation of black musical forms such as hip-hop, these primarily focus on what happens when a dominant group with a history of oppressing black populations takes on their musical forms. The Korean case is different. While many scholars have taken a serious look at the relationship between post-colonial studies and Korean popular culture, hip-hop is rooted in African American culture. Studies on race, especially on regions and populations that are less economically successful, have barely been carried out. Just like the anthropological and sociological studies of the past, hallyu studies turn away from the racially conflicted history of exchange between African-American and Korean populations--the treatment of the half-Korean children of black GIs, the Los Angeles race riots, and even contemporary battles surrounding support for #blackARMY (black fans of BTS).
Therefore, this conference and musical event will foreground issues of both Korean-ness and blackness in Korean hip-hop, addressing race in hip-hop in new ways and tackling formal analysis of the genre and its evolution in the Korean context. In so doing, we will examine cultural, performative, and linguistic aspects of Korean hip-hop. Through this conference we will explore the meaning of race and national ethnic identity of Korean popular culture of the 21st Century. It will consider the questions that engage global aesthetics, the role of ethnic and race studies in Korean studies, and challenges Korean linguistic and poetic sensibility faces in the globalizing era.
This conference will foreground the question of how both emergent and hegemonic cultural aesthetic can be brought to bear on the minority identity in Korean pop. This amplification of the mix of Korean-ness and blackness in Korean hip-hop hopefully will lead to an analysis of hip hop that could move away from essentialized study of the music genre, and into formal analysis of the genre. Stimulating academic talks, open to the public, will be accompanied by the first ever Afro-Korean Hip Hop Festival with events on the sidelines of the conference and a concert (talk concert?) in the evening featuring Korean and Korean-American hip-hop artists. A list of participating artists is forthcoming.
Confirmed Keynote Speaker:
Adam Bradley, Director of the Laboratory for Race and Popular Culture (RAP Lab), author of Book of Rhymes and The Anthology of Rap, University of Colorado Boulder Professor of English
Kyung Hyun Kim , UC Irvine professor of East Asian Studies
CedarBough T Saeji, University of British Columbia postdoctoral fellow
Please submit your 250 word abstract by May 30 to firstname.lastname@example.org (MS Word or RTF) with a brief self-introduction. Limited funds will be available to defray participants’ travel expenses. We are particularly interested in papers that address or include:
Linguistic analysis of Korean rap
The process of Korean acculturation of resistance and ethnic-identity coded American hip-hop discourse
Relationship between hip hop and Korean tradition
Race relations between African-American and Korean populations
Troping of gender in hip hop movement and lyrics
Racial coding in Korean hip-hop
Historic influence of African-American music on Korean music
The intersection of race and fandom
Transformation of rap as it leaves the West and English behind
This conference will be hosted by the Center for Critical Korean Studies at University of California, Irvine and has been sponsored in part by the Academy for Korean Studies.