*Please note that this vacancy has now been filled. July 2020
We are delighted to announce that we are currently looking for a new PhD student with a specialisation in the hip hop cultures for North America. Researchers with research interests and/or specialisms examining transnational connections to North America (broadly conceived) hip hop communities and scenes are also welcome.
Closing date for applications is 19th May 2020
CIPHER: Hip Hop Interpellation Research Team
One PhD Studentship in Hip Hop Studies is available at the Department of Music in the School of Film, Music, and Theatre at University College Cork. The position is funded by the European Research Council. The study of global hip hop knowledge flows will synergize ethnographic and computational methods to examine how hip hop “unlocks the global through the local.” The principal investigator of the project is Professor J. Griffith Rollefson.
CIPHER’s study of global hip hop knowledge flows will synergize ethnographic and computational methods to examine how we might conceive of hip hop as a form of “bottom-up globalization.” The successful candidates may have a disciplinary background rooted in any of the four traditional “elements” of hip hop (DJing/turntablism, MCing/rapping, graffiti/street art, bboy/bgirl dance) or any university discipline, but must demonstrate a deep knowledge of and commitment to hip hop’s “fifth element”: knowledge (of self). The PhD student researcher will also demonstrate an interest in the theory and methods of ethnographic fieldwork and/or community engaged scholarship. The successful candidate will have research interests in one or more geographic communities and an ability to do community-engaged work across various cultural sites and scenes. In their project proposal, applicants are expected to outline how their research record, interests, and skills align with the CIPHER initiative, namely, how they might explore hip hop’s localizations in their field(s) of cultural specialization. Citing specific “gems” of local hip hop knowledge in the context of the proposal will be particularly advantageous.
The PhD student researcher will be supervised by J. Griffith Rollefson, and work with postdoctoral researchers, a team of computational analysts, and an advisory board of established global hip hop scholars. The successful candidate will receive a monthly stipend, have access to dedicated funds for ethnographic research and conference travel, and assist with the organization of CIPHER’s international conferences and publications.
The successful candidate is expected to live in Cork, Ireland and become part of the research environment/network of the university and contribute to its development. The PhD student will be expected to work with the CIPHER team, present research papers at workshops and conferences, and contribute to popular dissemination of the research results.
In the evaluation of the applications, emphasis will be placed on:
- the candidate’s scholarly merit, research-related relevance, and innovation
- demonstrated knowledge of hip hop music and culture in local and global perspective
- demonstrated experience in ethnographic and/or community-engaged research in one or more cultural, geographic, or linguistic field sites
- good co-operative skills, and the ability to successfully join in academic collaboration within and across disciplines
CIPHER is a part of the UCC’s School of Film, Music, and Theatre and is located in the new Wandesford Quay Research Centre in Cork’s city centre.
Studentships are open immediately for application.
Applicants should hold a Masters degree in a relevant research area (related to one of the four traditional elements of hip hop or in a relevant university discipline). Ideally applicants will be able to demonstrate an interest in both theoretical and methodological skills of hip hop studies, with a keen interest in hip hop community and knowledge flows.
The successful applicants will each receive total stipend funding of €16,000 per annum for a minimum of three years and an annual contribution of €5,770 to cover EU tuition fees. Non-EU candidates are encouraged to apply and eligible for the full stipend but, if successful, will need to cover non-EU fees (totalling ca. €7,230) themselves.
General enquires about the PhD positions can be made to Prof. J. Griffith Rollefson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Applications by email to email@example.com and must include "CIPHER PhD Studentship” in the subject line.
Applications must include, in a single PDF document:
- one-page (max, single spaced) cover letter describing your relevant experience and interest in the post;
- two-page (max, single spaced) PhD research proposal: 1.) outlining research questions, theory, methods, and research site(s); and 2.) explaining how the research relates to the CIPHER initiative by offering examples of “gems of hip hop knowledge” (lyrical, sonic, performative, etc.) from your research site(s);
- full CV;
- transcripts of results for all university level modules and courses (BA and MA).
Submission Deadline date: 19th May 2020
Start date: Studentships start from September 2020.
CIPHER Crowdsourcing (Starting January/February 2020)
Follow @GlobalCipher on Twitter and Instagram to get involved in the first crowdsourcing phase of this global hip hop knowledge mapping project!
With your help, we'll be tagging gems of hip hop knowledge starting in February 2020. Start thinking about the most memorable, valuable, or inspiring bits of wisdom you have learned from hip hop. Are any of those knowledges from your region? Wait for the calls on social media in February, or if you're already here -- go ahead and tweet @GlobalCipher!
"Hey @GlobalCipher one of my favorite gems is from #Brooklyn's #Gangstarr "It's a long way to go when you don't know where you're going" #HardToEarn"
"Yo @GlobalCipher my favorite #IrishHipHop gem from #CountyKerry is from @craicmob (Spekulativ Fiktion) and goes "Spek’s on a good ting, it’s feckin’ timeless / Like the Tetrapod Footprints on Valentia Island." Now that's local! http://www.valentiaisland.ie/explore-valentia/tetrapod-trackway/ #Footprints #CipherGems
* * *
To get into the weeds, please read on! (Read "Layer One" below for more info on the crowdsourcing).
METHODOLOGY – The CIPHER Method: The Semantic Digital/Ethnographic Web
CIPHER: Hip Hop Interpellation will employ a three-layered semantic digital/ethnographic web methodology built on the premise that slogans, anthems, and icons—“hails”—are simultaneously produced by people and produce people. If #BlackLivesMatter has shown us anything it is how the discursive is the material; how a hashtag can become a movement and how a movement needs memes: hashtags, anthems, and symbols. Since the emergence of #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo this truth has become self-evident. But this premise is nothing new. Likewise, the samba is both product of and productive of Brazilians, «liberté, égalité, fraternité» is at once une devise révolutionnaire and constitutive of la République française, the Wolof griot both sings about the people and “sings the people.” What is new is our ability to track the emergence, circulation, and translation of those appellative practices—those memes—through digital networks (Maynard, Mello). As such, the three-layer CIPHER Method employs the digital humanities methods of crowd sourcing, semantic tagging, computational sociolinguistics (stylometry, cluster analysis, topic modeling) (Matthews, Kaufman, Blei), and mapping and cycles them through the traditional ethnographic techniques of interviews, thick description, musical analysis, participant observation, and stakeholder training. In this way the CIPHER Method attends to culture and/as cultural production by articulating digital “semantic web” technologies to ethnographic webs (see Layers 1-3 below).
To attend to the glocal complexities of how global flows are particularized at the local level, the CIPHER Method divides the global focus into five geographic fields with their myriad culture regions. While this project will not (indeed cannot) presume to closely examine every culture and language region, the CIPHER Ethnographic Team—comprising three trained Ethnographic Postdoctoral Researchers with linguistic, musical, and cultural specializations within the geographic fields of Africa/Middle East, Asia/Pacific, and Latin America/Circum-Caribbean, respectively, along with the PI and a PhD Student (in ethnomusicology) focusing on the European and North American geographic fields—will create a networked collection of targeted regional studies with true global reach and diversity. What’s more, through the CIPHER Method’s stakeholder training design (see Layer 3 below), the targeted geographic focus will cycle out across the regions more broadly, taking root in local hip hop communities beyond the geographic, linguistic, and musical reach of the Ethnographic Team’s fieldwork. CIPHER will thus yield data-driven, landmark conclusions about transnational and translational cultural flows at the regional and national levels, but it will also provide local insights and power more focused ethnographic conclusions—with digital resonances.
In every layer of the CIPHER Method, the CIPHER Ethnographic Team feeds data back to the CIPHER Computational Team—and vice versa. Comprising the PI, a Senior Postdoc in Computational Sociolinguists, her/his PhD student (in digital arts and humanities), and the support staff at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, the Computational Team will model and refine the search parameters and stylistic thresholds fed in by the Ethnographic Team. Further, they will build the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) (see Layer 1 and Layer 2 below) that will analyze and map correspondences between Ethnographic data sets and scraped online data. Setting up these feedback loops and working in constant collaboration, the Ethnographic and Computational Teams will thus model the cyclical, global/local, and digital/ethnographic conception encoded in the CIPHER: Hip Hop Interpellation acronym and logo (see p.1 above). This model will facilitate the first systematic global and cross-cultural analysis of hip hop while also deepening the individual researchers’ knowledges within and across their specific culture regions and computational fields. Most importantly, this method will prove transformative for our understanding of the spaces between culture and cultural production, between langue et parole, between Shadow and Act (Ellison), between Text and Act (Taruskin), shifting our focus to the all-important spaces where cultural meaning is made. As such, the CIPHER Method will prove easily transferrable to broader areas of cultural inquiry: to popular music, to musical sound, to performance, to culture.
Layer 1. “Hip Hop Appellations: Building the Knowledge Base” (and the Textual API)
First, the CIPHER Team, Advisory Council Members, and our extended networks of artists and scholars will crowdsource an initial data set and knowledge base by introducing a viral meme into our social networks (Twitter, Insta, Facebook, email lists, Genius.com, etc.). The first meme asks users to: “Name the top ten gems of hip hop knowledge that best represent your hood/city/nation. These can be words, phrases, and lyrics, or symbols, samples, beats, and power moves (dance). They can be digital hashtags, classic revolutionary anthems, or ancient icons. They can have universal or local meaning. #CIPHERGEMS @GlobalCIPHER.” With the help of the CIPHER Team’s artist and research network and the globally-connected CIPHER Advisory Council, the meme will be translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Greek, Polish, Czech, Russian, Turkish, Hebrew, Arabic, Wolof, Yoruba, Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaans, Hindu, Tamil, Urdu, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Māori, and Tagalog, and introduced into appropriate regional social networks. Additionally, we will circulate a follow-up meme to encourage new translations and circulations.
We will collect and compile the crowdsourced feedback in multiply indexed databases and then design AI Natural Language Processing searches for everything from global archetypes to specific hip hop gems—allowing for the AI to learn and flag emerging memes, themes, archetypes, and flashpoints. Layer 1 thus connects first-generation US-based markers of hip hop knowledge and knowledge of self (Sankofa, KoS, third eye, overseer/officer, “I have a dream,” “Buffalo Soldier,” “It’s like a jungle sometimes,” “dead presidents,” etc.) to translations and local cultural markers around the globe, for instance in France (liberté, j'accuse, Fanon, Algeria, Vichy, banlieue, les émeutes, Sarko, etc.). Together, the Ethnographic and Computational teams will sort, tag, and track these data—these “gems”—indexing them to massive lyric databases scraped from lyric sites such as Genius.com, building a Textual API to analyze these data and build a profile of the ways that such “hails” emerge and evolve. The CIPHER team will look not only at how these practices emerge within national contexts over time, but how these linguistic forms are translated, hybridized, localized, and flipped across ‘hood, region, and nation. By working with these smallest units of hip hop knowledge, the CIPHER approach attends to a vast array of appellations and puts them in a distilled and manageable form that allows us to understand the complexities of these glocalizing transnational and translational processes.
Layer 2. “Hip Hop Interpellations: Sounding the Knowledge Base” (and the Sonic API)
With this big data set, we will highlight common threads between appellations and begin examining the enunciative and musical aspects of their interpellation on sound recordings by building a Sonic API (Bevilacqua) on top of the Textual API. For as I suggest above, content is nothing without form; “Flags do nothing without trumpets.” In this second stage, the computational and ethnographic teams will thus analyze beats, instrumentations, rhythms, dialects, flow styles, and other sonic markers, moving beyond an intertextual analysis to a sonically sensitive interpellative one with the cutting edge methods of stylometric analysis—analysis that is defined (and constantly refined) by expert ethnographers and augmented by the power of AI computational interpolation. Here, the combined Ethnographic and Computational Teams will pay special attention to the ways in which musical markers of locality and indigeneity are used to buttress, highlight, contradict or otherwise signify on linguistic interpellations—for interpellation need not happen in text. In hip hop, hails often come in the form of melodic reference (La Marseillaise), instrumental timbre (the unmistakable sound of the Chinese erhu), local dialect (the Rubber Bandits’ working class Limerick brogue), and on. Most importantly, by analyzing sound in relation to text we will build a profile that gets us closer to an understanding of culture as cultural production; of form as content. To be sure, “meaning” and thus cultural significance, exists not in texts nor in their utterance, but in their interpellation.
Layer 3. “Hip Hop Performed Community: Cycling the Knowledge Base” (and the Iterative Map)
The ongoing third layer of this methodology will involve fieldwork trips by the PI, Ethnographers, and PhD student (all area specialists), both to visit scenes and to meet with artists and fans who emerge as central players in Layers 1 and 2. In this way we will complete the crowdsourcing loop, build on the solicited knowledges, observe live performances, interview artists and fans, solicit further input, and train local stakeholders to upload new knowledge structures to an Iterative Map that will further broaden our data, be searchable for cross-referencing with lyric (layer 1) and sonic (layer 2) data sets, and allow for a means of continued communication and feedback. By soliciting further input and encouraging stakeholders to gather and upload their own gems, the ethnographers will cycle the knowledge base, further pushing the meme and creating new knowledges. In this third layer, the Ethnographers will close the digital/ethnographic divide and enact CIPHER’s semantic web method, theorizing on the ground—but with the AI in their pocket—how this interpellative process works in their communities; how knowledges are translated, how new knowledges are created and performed, and how new communities are created around these knowledges. In this way, CIPHER draws conclusions about how communities create culture and how culture creates communities.
THEORY – Hip Hop Interpellation Theory: Post-Althusserian Performative “Hails”
In his 1972 essay “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatus (Notes Towards an Investigation),” Louis Althusser crafted the theory of interpellation to describe the ways that “ideological state apparatuses” subjugate and govern their subjects. Using the example of the way a police officer might shout “Hey, you there!” he explains how, on hearing the “hail,” the individual being hailed turns in conditioned response. It is this always already entrainment of which Althusser writes: “by this mere one-hundred-and-eighty-degree physical conversion, he becomes a subject”—his interpellation is brought into form through the hail, which he recognizes and already understands.
Although Althusser’s theory of interpellation—and elaborations by Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, Ranciere, Butler, and others—was designed to describe the ways that ideological coercion and subjectivization function in hegemonic structures via ideological state apparatuses like police forces, bureaucracies, religions, etc., his work has since been widely applied outside of such repressive ideological regimes (Macherey, Haupt, Garcia, Bhabha, Lapsley and Westlake, Mulvey). In his 2012 Radical Philosophy article “Figures of Interpellation in Althusser and Fanon,” Pierre Macherey relates Althusser’s focus on the repressive state police’s hail of “Hey, you there!” to Fanon’s focus on the colonial subject’s (own) hearing of “Look, a nigger!” Notably, the latter hail is about but not for this (non)subject—and, as Macherey rightly surmises, this (non)hail brings into consciousness alterity. Indeed, this hail brings into form and sonically structures a counterhegemonic subjectivity. Similarly, in his Static: Race and Representation in Post-Apartheid Music, Media and Film, the South African media scholar Adam Haupt speaks of the ways that “racial and class interpellation” both forms the shared languages of solidarity and facilitates individual agency.
In addition to Deleuze and Guattari’s important post-Althusserian work on how sound “impels us,” perhaps most relevant to the sonic interpellation theory I describe here is Luis-Manuel Garcia’s“Interpellation and the Ethical Turn in Electronic Dance Music.” In this recent colloquium presentation at the Oxford Faculty of Music, the EDM scholar described the “coercive ideological force” of “calls to ethical action in EDM communities in Berlin,” turning the focus to counterhegemonic ideological formations—and foregrounding musical sound in the analysis thereof. CIPHER leverages such post-Althusserian theories of interpellation and subjectivization to explain how counterhegemonic movements such as hip hop (Lipsitz) also function through such “coercive” hailing practices, which “shout out” to individuals and bring them into form as subjects. Further, Hip Hop Interpellation moves from an understanding of the naming practices of Althusser’s theory of interpellation—the hailing practices and discursive webs that enable ideological incorporation—to an interpolationthat locates other histories within and through hip hop’s performed knowledges. This theory thus reinterprets Althusser’s interpellation as a performative theory centered around the act of sonic recognition—“they were speaking to me.”
Post-Doctoral Positions (Ethnographers)
Positions Filled (Jan 2020)
Two Post-Doctoral Researcher posts in Hip Hop Studies, are available at the Department of Music in the School of Film, Music, and Theatre at University College Cork. The positions are funded by the European Research Council and are associated with the research project CIPHER: Hip Hop Interpellation. This study of global hip hop knowledge flows will synergize ethnographic and computational methods to examine how hip hop “unlocks the global through the local.” The principal investigator of the project is Professor J. Griffith Rollefson.
We look to hire two Post-Doctoral Researchers with specialization in the hip hop cultures of any world culture region(s) outside of Europe and North America. Especially welcome (but not necessary) will be hip hop scholars with specialisms in two or more cultural/musical/linguistic areas (e.g. Japanese and Mandarin; Wolof, French, and Arabic; Spanish, Tagalog, and English).
This study of global hip hop knowledge flows will synergize ethnographic and computational methods to examine how we might conceive of hip hop as a form of “bottom-up globalization.” The successful candidates may have a disciplinary background rooted in any of the four traditional “elements” of hip hop (DJing/turntablism, MCing/rapping, graffiti/street art, bboy/bgirl dance) or any university discipline, but must demonstrate a deep knowledge of and commitment to hip hop’s “fifth element”: knowledge (of self). The postdoctoral scholars will also demonstrate knowledge of the theory and methods of ethnographic fieldwork and/or community engaged scholarship and have an established track record in such work. The successful candidates will have linguistic, musical, and cultural specializations in one or more geographic communities and an ability to do community-engaged work across various cultural sites and scenes. In their project proposal, the candidates are expected to outline how their research record, interests, and skills align with the CIPHER project – namely, how they might explore hip hop’s localizations in their field(s) of cultural specialization. Citing specific “gems” of local hip hop knowledge in the context of the proposal will be particularly advantageous.
The postdoctoral researchers will work closely with J. Griffith Rollefson, as well as doctoral student researchers, a team of Computational Analysts with specializations in social media, big data, stylometry, and sonic analysis, an Advisory Board of established global hip hop scholars, and an Artistic Council of global hip hop artists.
The successful candidates will have access to dedicated funds for research and conference travel, and assist with the organization of CIPHER’s international conferences and publications.
The successful candidates are expected to live in Cork, Ireland and become part of the research environment/network of the university and contribute to its development. The Post-Doctoral Researchers are expected to publish independently and together with the CIPHER team, present research papers at workshops and international conferences, and contribute to popular dissemination of the research results.
In the evaluation of the applications, emphasis will be placed on:
More details and application: https://www.ucc.ie/en/hr/vacancies/research/full-details-1006048-en.html
IUA Salary Scale Yes X No o Personal Rate Yes o No X
Salary: €37,221 - €44,266 p.a.
Post Duration: 2 years
Finalists who are not selected for the two posts--and promising scholars with specializations outside of the specified regions--will be encouraged to apply for external funding to join the CIPHER Team. Qualified candidates will receive application support from the PI and UCC's Research Office in the application process. Applicants with specializations in ANY AREA of global hip hop studies (incl. Europe and N. America) are encouraged to investigate the ERC's Marie Curie Individual Fellowships page at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/portal/screen/opportunities/topic-details/msca-if-2019
(See also: Fulbright, Irish Research Council, SSRC, etc.) and email firstname.lastname@example.org with a 1-page proposal and current c.v. for vetting.