Call for Papers n°2

Translocal art worlds




Alice Aterianus-Owanga, University of Lausanne

Cécile Navarro, HES-SO Valais

Armelle Gaulier, Sciences Po Bordeaux, LAM



In 1982, Howard Becker published Art Worlds, proposing a model that would reconfigure the ways of examining artistic creation. Inspired by interactionist theories and by the sociology of work, he emphasized chains of cooperation between actors that lead to the creation of works of  art and stressed the importance of "conventions". Defined as rules and principles shared by the actors of these worlds, conventions allow to coordinate their actions, to define the modes of consecration or disqualification of artists and art works. By bringing together the fields of production, reception, and dissemination of art works in a single model of analysis, Becker’s theory profoundly renewed the understanding of various artistic fields, and particularly inspired the sociology of artistic work.


With or without explicit reference to Becker, for several years numerous anthropological studies have attempted to understand these art worlds beyond their local anchors and to question their ramifications in other spaces (Bennett and Peterson 2004; Kiwan and Meinhof 2011; Le Menestrel 2012). In the fields of music and dance in particular, the approach of artistic mobility has thus made it possible to observe the creation of transnational "social spaces" and "cultural fields" around specific music and choreographic genres. For example, the world of tango travels back and forth, linking Buenos Aires, Europe and the world (Davis 2015), West African contemporary dance is shaped through exchanges at the sub-regional level (Sieveking 2017) and with Europe (Despres 2016), and Ghanaian hip-hop is produced between London, New York and Accra (Shipley 2013). As soon as 1997, Mayra Santos-Febres spoke of "translocality" to qualify the inclusion of salsa in global markets, and the "community of urban localities that it brings together" (Santos-Febres, 1997: 177). The concept of “translocality” thus considers how those social worlds, networks, and conventions that govern the production of certain music-choreographic genres, are highly fragmented between different spaces and socio-political contexts: social spaces can be created across local and national borders, and their  memberships are built on the sharing of common artistic "conventions".


But how does “translocality” shape art worlds? How does the mobility of artistic production contribute to the creation or transformation of art worlds and their conventions? How, through their movements, do artists negotiate with different norms influencing artistic works, trajectories, and subjectivity? How, according to these worlds and conventions, are the works received by the audience(s)? Finally, how do artists' mobilities, informed by an analysis of the conventions and norms of these translocal art worlds, allow us to understand the multi-localized, socio-political contexts in which artists evolve?


This special issue wishes to place the mobility and translocality of art worlds at the heart of the analysis. Thinking of art worlds as "interstitial spaces" and "circulatory territories" (Tarrius 1993), the contributions will shed light on how mobilities reconfigure the worlds of music and dance – whether through the emergence of new musical aesthetics, the inversion of local stereotypes by "branchements" with the global (Amselle 2001), or by acting on power relations. In contrast to the concept of "scene" (Guibert and Bellavance, 2014), the concept of "art world" does not make the relationships that the chain of cooperation has with the space where its conventions are produced explicit. This special issue invites us to rethink the relevance of the concept of "art worlds" in the light of mobility phenomena.


We wish to bring together anthropological, sociological, historical, or ethnomusicological studies on different actors of the art worlds (musicians, dancers, producers, agents, managers, fans, students...), engaged in different regimes or scales of mobility, and evolving in different historical periods.


We suggest a (non-exhaustive) list of entries through which authors can potentially address this topic:

- 1. Renewed conventions: How does the taking into account of the mobility and anchoring of the actors of these artistic worlds between different localities shed new light on the dynamic, multiple, and even ambivalent dimension of artistic conventions? We call upon the authors to question how art worlds and translocality renew the notion of convention which, depending on spaces, contains ambivalence, which in turn reveals social positioning and representations.

- 2. Individual paths and historical routes: The reconstruction of singular trajectories gives a good account of the way in which the same artist can oscillate between different art worlds according to his or her mobility. It will be possible, in this axis, to trace how mobilities of actors translocate art worlds in a circulatory space revisited by artistic proposals and movements. We encourage authors to pay attention to the ways these individual journeys take place within (or against the flow of) broader traffic systems: on the roads of colonial empires, on regional or transnational migration networks, on tourism routes, or in the virtual spaces opened up by the expansion of digital technology.

- 3. Audiences and works of art: artists may be perceived differently depending on where they disseminate their art and where it is received. In this axis, we will discuss the conventions that are produced in the interaction between audiences and artists, and that allow them to move from one space to another, or on the contrary, that hinder the belonging of these actors in several spaces at the same time. Does the translocality of art worlds go hand in hand with a translocality of audiences and reception of the works of art?

- 4. Local anchors: festivals, intensive courses, creative workshops, studio recording sessions: translocal networks are constantly anchoring and redefining themselves in given spaces and times, "hubs" (Kiwan and Meinhof 2012) where artistic conventions are discussed and acted out in situ. The authors will be able to unfold their analysis of the translocality of art worlds by describing micro-local "situations" (Mitchell 1956) where links that contribute to the cohesion of these artistic worlds fragmented between different spaces are established.

- 5. Media and Markets: from the first discographic recordings, their diffusion by radios during the colonial period, to the current digital applications, the evolution of the media allows to create music or choreographies at a distance. In what way have technological transformations accompanied this splintering of art worlds between different localities? How can their conventions be analyzed?

- 6. Music networks and religious communities: musical and dance performances often play an important role in the encounters of diasporic religious communities (Ferran, 2015); conversely, music sometimes contributes to the travel of religious rituals or symbols beyond their borders (Capone and Salzbrunn, 2018). This axis will question the way in which the mobile conventions of the worlds of music and dance sometimes intertwine with the norms and precepts of religious movements, and how the translocality of the worlds of art accompanies the "mechanisms of deterritorialization of 'belief'" (Bava, 2017).


Instructions and Schedule

This issue will be co-edited by Alice Aterianus-Owanga (University of Lausanne), Cécile Navarro (HES-SO Valais) and Armelle Gaulier (Sciences Po Bordeaux, LAM). Proposals for contributions (title and abstract of 4000 to 6000 signs, including bibliographical references) are expected by 30 September 2020. The proposals need to include the main areas of analysis as well as the field of research, and will be accompanied by a bio-bibliographic record of the author.

Proposals should be sent to the special issue’s coordinators, Alice Aterianus-Owanga, and Cécile Navarro and Armelle Gaulier:,,

Authors will be notified by November 2020.

Final papers (max. 35,000 to 70,000 characters including spaces and bibliography) must be sent before 30 March 2021. The publication of this issue of Ethnologie Française is scheduled for spring 2022.



Amselle, Jean-Loup. 2001. Branchements, anthropologie de l’universalité des cultures. Paris, Flammarion.

Bava, Sophie. 2017. Routes migratoires et itinéraires religieux. Des Sénégalais mourides entre Touba et Marseille, Paris, Panafrika.

Becker, Howard S. 1988. Les mondes de l’art. Paris, Flammarion.

Bennett, Andy, et Richard A. Peterson. 2004. Music Scenes: Local, Translocal and Virtual, Vanderbilt University Press.

Capone Stefania et Monika Salzbrunn (eds). 2018. « A l’écoute des transnationalisations religieuses ». Civilisationsn°67.

Davis, Kathy. 2015. Dancing Tango: Passionate Encounters in a Globalizing World. NYU Press.

Despres, Altaïr. 2016. Se faire contemporain: les danseurs africains à l’épreuve de la mondialisation culturelle. Paris, Publications de la Sorbonne.

Guibert, Gérôme, etBellavance, Guy. 2014. “La notion de « scène », entre sociologie de la culture et sociologie urbaine : genèse, actualités et perspectives”. Cahiers de recherche sociologique(57), pp. 5–15

Kiwan, Nadia, et Ulrike Hanna Meinhof. 2011. Cultural Globalization and Music: African Artists in Transnational Networks. Palgrave Macmillan.

Le Menestrel, Sara (ed.). 2012. Des vies en musique. Parcours d’artistes, mobilités, transformations. Paris, Hermann.

Lysloff René T. A. (2003) “Musical Community on the Internet: An Online Ethnography”. Cultural Anthropology18 (2), pp. 233-263.

Mitchell, J. Clyde. 1956. The Kalela Dance: Aspects of Social Relationships among Urban Africans in Northern Rhodesia. Manchester, Published on behalf of the Rhodes-Livingstone, Institute by the Manchester University Press.

Santos-Febres, Mayra. 1997. « Salsa as Translocation. » in Celeste Fraser Delgado and Jose Munoz, eds. Everynight Life: Culture and Dance in Latin/o America. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Shipley, Jesse Weaver. 2013. Living the Hiplife: Celebrity and Entrepreneurship in Ghanaian Popular Music. Durham, Duke Univ Pr (Tx).

Sieveking, Nadine. 2017. “La localité de l’art global. Danser au contemporain à Ouagadougou.” in Sarah Andrieu et Emmanuelle Olivier (eds.). Création artistique et imaginaires de la globalisation, Paris, Hermann, pp. 255–282

Tarrius, Alain. 1993. « Territoires circulatoires et espaces urbains : Différentiation des groupes migrants ». Les Annales de la recherche urbaine59 (1), pp. 51-60.

CFP - Translocal art worlds