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Oliver Wang

Oliver Wang is assistant professor of Sociology at California State University-Long Beach. He contributes regularly to NPR and the LA Times and runs the audio-blog, Soul-Sides.com.

 

Abstract:

"The The ? Remains: Toward a Culture-Emergent Hip-Hop Studies"

Of all forms of popular music, hip-hop is arguably the most explicit in its claims to constituting a distinctive and coherent “culture”. Yet – paradoxically - hip-hop scholarship has historically made surprisingly little use of methodologies designed for the study of cultural processes in human society.

This roundtable will explore the experience of scholars who have resisted this trend by not only being participant/observers in the general anthropological sense, but by actually practicing one or more hip-hop arts. Discussants are asked to reflect on the virtues and potential pitfalls involved in this cultural collision of research, performance, advocacy and personal expression. How do we negotiate multiple roles and divided allegiances? In what ways do these experiences reflect the condition of urbanity itself, which gave rise to hip-hop in the first place? How may this experience cycle back to define the parameters and goals of our methodologies? Is there such a thing as a culture-emergent hip-hop studies methodology, and if so, what are its strengths and weaknesses?

This roundtable features five accomplished scholar-practitioners of hip-hop, some of whom approach this work as hip hop artists turned academics; some as academics who became artists in the process of researching hip hop; and some who experience hip-hop as part of the ongoing negotiation of their everyday lives.