Call KISMIF Conference 2020

We are pleased to announce the fifth KISMIF International Conference ‘Keep It Simple, Make It Fast! DIY Cultures and Global Challenges’ (KISMIF Conference 2020) which will take place in Porto, Portugal, between 8 July and 11 July 2020. The submission of abstracts for this conference is open to academic researchers working in all areas of sociology, anthropology, history, cultural economics, cultural studies, geography, philosophy, urban planning, media, and cognate disciplines, such as design, illustration, popular music, cinema, visual and performing arts. This initiative follows the great success of the past four KISMIF Conferences (held in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018) and brings together an international community of researchers focusing on underground music scenes and do-it-yourself cultures.

The KISMIF Conference offers a unique forum where participants can discuss and share information about underground cultures and DIY practices. KISMIF focuses on cultural practices that are often pitched against more mainstream, mass-produced and commodified forms of cultural production and mediation. Aligned with this is an anti-hegemonic ideology focused around aesthetic and lifestyle politics. KISMIF is the first, and so far only, conference in the world to examine the theory and practice of DIY cultures as an increasingly significant form of cultural practice in a global context. The conference has a multidisciplinary approach, welcoming contributions from the global community of scholars, artists, and activists working on all aspects of underground scenes and DIY cultures, and based on various methodologies — quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods analysis. The goal is to discuss not only music but also other artistic fields such as film and video, graffiti and street art, theatre and the performing arts, literature and poetry, radio, programming and editing, graphic design, illustration, cartoons and comic fiction.

Seeking to respond to the desire reiterated by researchers, artists and activists present at previous KISMIF conferences, the 5th KISMIF will focus on ‘DIY Cultures and Global Challenges’. The world is currently living through a maelstrom of societal challenges. In parallel to the questions of migration, populism and an upsurge in nationalism, we find growing antagonisms facilitated by austerity, displacement, racism, class tensions, economic crisis and environmental change. As such, the world is becoming an increasingly precarious place. In this context, we truly believe that DIY cultures—and the diverse processes and ways in which they work—offer real resources and forces for hope and change. As a cultural form and practice, DIY has evolved from its early history during the punk era of the 1970s to become a trans-local and innovative matrix of culture. At its core is a desire to blur boundaries, demystify processes and provide space for marginal voices and communities. For all its spiky confrontation, punk’s cultural practices—its DIY ethos, networks, spaces and means of communication (records, styles, fanzines, cinema, performance, video art, design and other diverse creativities)—have facilitated and allowed for inclusivity and agency. While not neglecting or forgetting its origins, such an ethos may be brought to the fore when addressing questions of ongoing social change. Within DIY practice lies the potential to overturn existing hierarchies, to respond to many current challenges and to engage constructively with social, racial, sexual, gender, health and other differences. 

The fact that DIY is a vital part of the artistic process is highly relevant. In truth, there are many collaborative and community-oriented art practices born of DIY cultures, such as non-official socio-cultural centres, urban scenes and grassroots artistic projects deeply embedded in local communities. The arts have never been merely a commercial product of hegemonic power; rather they are expressions, reflections, and interpretations that encompass an array of meanings. They have always been a semiotic means of protest and experiment; they have ever seen things differently and served as a resource for creative action. They can be quietly searching or openly disruptive; they can be pacifying as a distraction or work as a means of engagement. However, through creativity, people acquire knowledge—they find and express emotions and take control of their surroundings. We intend to explore DIY and related underground cultures by constructing a matrix for converting art into action. The aim is to analyse and enhance possible intersections between non-hegemonic art and civil society in order to empower individuals and communities both at the local level, and across social and geographical boundaries. DIY cultures are important to find strategies of action, to connect and unite communities and to strengthen resilience in the face of future societal challenges. Through collaborative research and practice, we aim to demonstrate innovative ways of doing and co-creating. Using examples of empirical and artistic engagement with multi-generational DIY scenes across Europe, we will reveal how over the last 40 years these apparently ‘peripheral’ arts have harnessed a range of practices to both address and promote themes of democracy and social and spatial justice. Effectively, they provide multifaceted responses to the challenges of our world, promoting seminal ideas for a better future.

In 2020, KISMIF’s scientific programme will once again be accompanied by a diverse social and cultural programme, characterised by a series of artistic events, with special focus on underground music and other artistic expressions. The aim is to provide a unique experience in terms of the transglobal and inclusive DIY cultures.

The Conference will be preceded by a Summer School entitled ‘Not Just Holidays in the Sun’ on 7 July 2020 at Rivoli Municipal Theatre of Porto. The Summer School will offer an opportunity for all interested persons, including those participating in the Conference, to attend workshops directed by specialists in these fields, namely arts and community-based projects. More information about the Summer School will be progressively disseminated on the KISMIF Conference website: www.kismifconference.com.