The Legacy of Migrant Musicians from Nazi-Europe in Britain 


Call for Papers


Music, Migration and Mobility: An Interdisciplinary International Conference 

Online, hosted by the Royal College of Music ,12-14 September, 2022. 



This conference aims to investigate music as a mobile phenomenon, and the history of music as animated by mobility rather than fixity. It strives to reflect critically on methodological approaches and theoretical framings of music, especially the music of migrants. We invite proposals from scholars in any arts, humanities, and social sciences disciplines – as well as music practitioners – for papers that explore music and musical history through the lens of mobility, as opposed to static, rigid categories of national or geographical belonging.  


The study of mobility/mobilities offers approaches capable of vivifying cross-disciplinary discussions between work in a wide variety of fields. Relevant disciplines might include (but should not be limited to): musicology and music practice,

history, geography, philosophy, cultural studies, literary studies, sociology, anthropology, media studies, Jewish studies and education. 


The conference will explore the potential of existing and new ways of approaching the study of mobility in relation to music and the arts. Approaches towards mobility, such as the ‘new mobilities paradigm’ (Sheller and Urry 2004), position mobility/mobilities as being fundamental to our social and cultural worlds. Exploring the mobilities of people, objects (such as musical instruments, music books, mobile players, car radios), concepts and practices (Bull 2004; Grosch 2010; Gopinath and Stanyek 2014) afford us with opportunities to rethink social and political structures, and indeed human experiences (Cresswell 2006), in far less static and more nuanced and fluid terms.  


Approaches centring mobility/mobilities also allow for focus on the ways that mobilities are unequally accessed, positioned, relational, and perhaps unjust (Sheller 2018), and, as a result, potentially slowed, stopped, stuck, or impeded. Researchers are, thus, as likely to talk of immobilities in order the reflect the uneven experiences and power relations that shape mobility, as they are to speak of meaningful movements. One thinks, for instance, of Berish’s work (2012) on the experience of Black jazz musicians in the United States across infrastructures of automobility and race. Another example would be the effect of recent changes in access to mobility for British musicians after Brexit. There is, indeed, no single prevailing framework for approaching mobilities, but rather a multitude of ‘mobile methodologies’ (Merriman 2014; Büscher, Freudendal-Pedersen, Kesselring, Kristensen 2020) which can be used to apprehend mobilities and immobilities in connection with traditional and innovative research methods. Further, in centring the mobilities and immobilities of, say, migrants, one can cast new light on concepts like exile, helping us to think critically about inherited models that ultimately privilege stasis in describing discrete and delineated movement ‘from there’ ‘to here.’  


The conference will offer an opportunity to discuss the methodological, conceptual, and practical challenges that arise from such an approach, and to enter into a dialogue about its usefulness. Papers should give theoretical, methodological and conceptual reflections and not just narrate or document empirical or historical facts. 


Topics for paper proposals might include (but, again, should not be limited to): 

• ​music and migration, reconsidered through the lens of mobility 

•​ mobilities of musicians, (musical) ideas, objects, works, aesthetic and performative concepts  

•​ theoretical reflections on exile from the mobility perspective 

•​ reflections on the (explicit and implicit) histories of musical mobility 

•​ representations of mobility in music and its performance 

• ​mobile musical methodologies between theory and (creative) practice 


As a world-leading advocate for the future of music, the Royal College of Music is committed to being an agent of positive and meaningful cultural change, embracing the ideals of an open, innovative and just society. This conference aims to build on the work of the AHRC-funded Music, Migration, and Mobility project, undertaken in partnership with Royal Holloway University of London and Salzburg University. Since its start in 2019 the project has aimed to investigate the diverse and uneven mobilities of migrant musicians who fled Nazism and fascist regimes for Britain in the years leading up to the Second World War. The project aims to determine how foregrounding mobility can help us to better understand the legacies and impact upon culture of migratory musicians and other mobile artists and cultural figures. In the context of migration, the new mobilities paradigm helps us to challenge the notion of (transnational) mobility as an abnormal human experience, which in turn allows us to re-evaluate the lives and legacies of migratory peoples.  


The programme committee will include: 

Norbert Meyn, Royal College of Music (chair)

Peter Adey, Royal Holloway University of London

Nils Grosch, University of Salzburg

Beth Snyder, Royal College of Music

Michael Holden, Royal Holloway University of London


Please submit an abstract (up to 250 words) and a short biography (up to 150 words) to our Research Coordinator Helen Kuby email: by Feb 15, 2022.