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Sound System Outernational are pleased to announce our 5th event. This is taking place in Naples, Italy. Besides our usual exciting mix of researchers, practitioners and aficionados, this event will highlight the long established and vibrant sound system scene in this beautiful Italian city.

Report on SS #5 Good Vibrations in Naples

MCCS MA students from Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Studies and PhD students enjoyed the sunshine and a ground-breaking conference in Naples, Italy. This was Sound System Outernational #5 Sounds in the City: Street Technology and Public Space (4th to 6th April). Perhaps not widely known, Naples besides its progressive politics, cuisine and colonial history, for last twenty years the city has been the epicentre of a remarkably popular sound system scene with its home in the local "social movements" and squats.

Of the thirty or so panel presenters, Goldsmiths students (several of whom had participated in previous SSO conferences at Goldsmiths) were well-represented. The content was rich and standard were extremely high throughout, as participants appreciated. To mention just a few highlights, these included Tikur Sound (Italian/Ethiopian Refugee sound system), UNITY (first Tunisian sound system), Young Warrior (UK Lewisham sound system, son of Jah Shaka) and Moses Iten (RMIT University, Melbourne) on Digital Cumbia music from Columbia by way of Mexican sonideros (sound systems). A beautifully-mounted Sound Icons photographic exhibition, specially commissioned for SSO5 and funded by the Public Engagement Program of the Social Sciences Department at L’Orientale, opened on the first night.

The panel sessions were top and tailed by two most thought-provoking keynotes from Louis Chude-Sokei (Boston University, The Sound of Culture) on diasporic generations and the dub echoes in the ruins of history and Sonjah Stanley-Niaah (UWI, Jamaica, DanceHall from Slave ship to Ghetto) about sound regulation as opposed to noise prohibition in Kingston, Jamaica. One of the emergent themes was the south-south dialogue with Naples as a key node in what is now being called the Black Mediterranean.

The founding principle of all SSO events is to bring researchers and practitioners together for dialogue in a university setting - and at a dance. With SSO #5 local practitioner representation was particularly strong with the opening session in which the entire history of Italian sound systems was represented by the legendary Lampa Dread (One Love Hi Powa, Rome), Mimmo Superbass (I&I Project, Bari) and Nadine Muxima (former KDW, Aosta). Joining forces with the local social movement organisations was the key. The second night had film screenings and dance with local 55 Sound System in Scugnizzo Liberato, a recently squatted vast five-story former juvenile detention facility, now a community centre.

For the closing night, SSO was hosted by Csoa Officina 99, which after 25 years is Naples’ longest-established squat. The night included dub talks and demonstrations from David Katz (UK, author Solid Foundation) and Anti Bypass (France, engineer and music producer). DJ sets from Nzinga Soundz (UK) and DJ Muxima (Italy) on Bababoom Hi-Fi sound system readied the capacity crowd for the headliner Mad Professor (UK) - with his stem music track live dub mix featuring Aisha (UK).

Our most generous hosts and partners for this event was L’Orientale University CSPG -Centre for Post Colonial and Gender Studies with whom MCCS has a long-standing exchange programme established by Professor Angela McRobbie, as well as the recently founded TRU Technocultures Research Unit. Besides making our hallmark theory-practice connections, SSO #5 continued inter-generational conversations and enjoyed strong female representation. More than any previous event this one was truly international.

Months in the planning, SSO #5 owes a large part of its success to Dr Brian “Bababoom” D’Aquino and his Naples team, Dr Olga Solombrino and Dr Alessandra Ferlito, as well as to off-site executive assistant Dr Oana Parvan, without whose organisational skills and trust from both L’Orientale and the social movements the event could not have taken place.  As with each previous, SSO the fifth iteration built on our experience and audience. With each it was difficult to imagine how the bar could be raised any higher for the next one - but in Naples, we did the again.

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Full programme

Sounds in the City

Jamaican sound system culture has become an outernational phenomenon over recent decades. New intersections between popular music, subaltern cultures, black diasporas, sound technologies are blossoming in urban space around the world. From the UK to Italy, from Brazil to India, the ubiquitous presence of the Jamaican-born mobile-disco sets constitute a constellation of generative sites of intercultural and intergenerational encounter worthy of critical attention. At the same time in many countries sound system culture is threatened by restrictive legislation and policing.

Taking place in Naples on the weekend of 5, 6 and 7 April 2019, Sound System Outernational 5: Sounds in the City: Street Technology and Public Space explores the wide range of issues, theories and practices located at the intersection of music, sound, technology, migration, race and the emergent politics of contemporary urban space. Across the globe the adaptation of Jamaican sound system culture has stimulated an innovative approach to sound technologies deployed to re-configure public spaces as sites for conviviality, celebration, resistance and different ways-of-knowing. In a world of digital social media, the shared, multi-sensory, social and embodied experience of the sound system session becomes ever more important and valuable. With methodologies emphasizing local participation and professional sound system practices-as-research we draw on Cultural and Postcolonial Studies, Sound Studies, Popular Music Studies, Critical Black Studies and Caribbean Critical Theory.

We welcome participation from artists, engineers, musicians, selectors, academics, activists and anyone else who participates directly or indirectly in sound system culture. Contributions can be creative, practical, or research-based. It may be in the form of a workshop, exhibition, talk, film screening, display, or demonstration. We welcome all engaging with sound system music, culture, community, gender, technology, dance, oral histories, graphics, business, marketing etc, especially from global and intergenerational perspectives. Contributions welcomed on (but not limited to)

Global to local adaptations of Jamaican sound culture

  • Sound, technology and gender
  • Music, technology and black diaspora
  • Sound, music and migration
  • Auditory epistemologies
  • DIY sonic cultures and technologies
  • Sonic resistance and urban space
  • Sound, identity and technology
  • Vernacular knowledge and street technology

Sounds in the City: Street Technology and Public Space is designed as a multi-layered event hosted at Università degli Studi di Napoli L’Orientale with local social movement partners. Over two days and interacting with the city of Naples in its rich academic, social, political and musical dimensions, the event includes include talks, roundtables, exhibitions and film screenings. It also features a sound system dance hosting local and international performers in some of the city’s most iconic social spaces as well as exhibitions and other events. Sound System Outernational (Goldsmiths, University of London) partners include: Sound System Culture / Lets Go Yorkshire and BASS (British Association of Sound Systems); and from Italy: University of Naples “L’Orientale”, Centre for Postcolonial and Gender Studies (Naples), Technocultures Research Unit (Naples), Scugnizzo Liberato - Laboratorio di Mutuo Soccorso,  CSOA Officina 99 and Bababoom Hi-Fi Sound System.

The beautiful city of Naples has a strong sound system tradition, but is also a city with a unique history of innovation in popular culture and politics, with a rich subcultural presence and a well-developed network of autonomous social centres. Located in the south of Italy, at the heart of the Mediterranean, Naples is also a crucial node in the emergent archipelago of urban spaces shaped by migration: it is a point of transit, a home to thousands of migrants, and has a rich diasporic tradition and popular cosmopolitan politics of its own.

Sounds in the City will also provide the occasion for the SSO international research network meeting and the opportunity for a short-term research project on the Napoli sound system scene.

Abstract/Proposals/ Ideas by 14th January 2019. Send a one paragraph propsal by email to with the header SSO5 Proposal.

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