isaScience 2018

Participatory Approaches to Music & Democracy

The conference isaSience is part of isa, the summer academy of mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Austria, and offers a platform for interdisciplinary research on music and performing arts on diverse themes since 2013. From 2013 to 2017 Ursula Hemetek and Cornelia Szabó-Knotik organised the conference program.

Organisers of isaScience 2018:
Dagmar Abfalter, Marko Kölbl, Rosa Reitsamer, Fritz Trümpi

Conference date: 10–14 August, 2018
Conference venue: Hotel Marienhof, Reichenau an der Rax, Austria

Keynote lectures
David Hesmondhalgh,
Professor for Media, Music and Culture, University of Leeds, UK
Milena Dragičević ŠešićUNESCO Chair Cultural Policy and Management, University of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia
Marsha Siefert, Associate Professor of History, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Deborah Wong, Professor of Ethnomusicology, University of California, USA

We invite scholars from various disciplinary and cultural backgrounds and academic levels to join the conference "Participatory Approaches to Music & Democracy".


Conference Registration Form

Call for Papers

Over the last few decades, a rich body of literature has explored how individuals and groups use music as a resource to achieve social, cultural and political participation and to bring about social change in society. Studies have also investigated music’s use by political groups and parties in the past and present that impose authoritarian, neoliberal or even fascist political ideas. Finally, research is concerned with the promise and myth of democratization through technology in regard to music production, distribution and reception/appropriation.

The organisers of isaScience welcome papers on music and democracy from a wide range of disciplines (e.g. musicology, ethnomusicology, music sociology, cultural studies, queer studies, postcolonial studies, arts and cultural management) addressing (but not limited to) the following themes and topics:

  • Music’s role for historical revolts and revolutions, for propagating national and nationalistic identities in the long 19th century or music’s use in the name of “the people” during fascist and post-fascist periods;
  • Research on performance practices of minorities and marginalised groups that challenge and subvert dominant norms and classifications;
  • Democratizing dimensions of orally transmitted music traditions;
  • Grassroots, “bottom-up” and Do-it-Yourself approaches to music and performance propagated by social movements;
  • Research on music and activism: e.g. activist choirs, feminist and queer performance groups, anti-racist rock groups, singer-songwriters;
  • Participatory forms of “musicking” (Small) in local, translocal and virtual music “scenes”;
  • Documenting and preserving the “sounds of democracy” and “hidden” popular music’s past: studies on archives, museums and halls of fame;
  • Music, migration, border regimes and exile;
  • Representations of democracy in artistic practices (e.g. composing);
  • Research on “mediamorphosis” (e.g. electrification, digitalisation) and its effects for democratization: “new” possibilities of self-representation, modes of participation for consumers, and business models in the music and media industries;
  • Notions of “epistemic violence” (Spivak) in music research.



isaScience since 2013

isaScience17: Motion - Emotion - Movement, Report, PhD-Day

isaScience16: Drama - Ritual - Cultic Acts

isaScience15: JUBILEE! Music and Cultural Memory

isaScience14:  Zeitenwenden

isaScience13: Skandal!?


Semmering View Photo: Stephan Polzer

Schloss Rothschild_Nora Bammer.jpg

Schloss Rothschild - isa Matinée - Reichenau/Rax Photo: Nora Bammer


Book Presentation Photo: Stephan Polzer


Book Presentation Photo: Stephan Polzer

Semmering_Nora Bammer.jpg

View Semmering Photo: Nora Bammer


How to get to the isaScience 2018?


  • by train from Vienna Central Station (Hauptbahnhof Wien): Trains serve approx. every 30 minutes the destination of Payerbach-Reichenau, travelling time is approx. 1 hour; find your train and ticket here: ÖBB Austrian Railways
  • by car: Highway S6 (arriving from Vienna on the highway A2 or from Graz on the highway A9), take the exit n°17 - Gloggnitz, direction Gloggnitz, then on B27 to Reichenau/Rax
  • by airplane arriving at Vienna International Airport: Trains run from VIE airport to Vienna Central Station or Wiener Neustadt where you have to change the train for Payerbach-Reichenau

The train station for reaching Reichenau/Rax is in Payerbach, both villages are next to each other and our shuttle busses will connect Payerbach and Reichenau!


Participation in all events of isaScience is open and free of charge. For organisational reasons, registration is obligatory. 

Should you require complimentary funding for travel and accommodation, please consider the application box included in the registration form!

Please email your completed  registration form to


Please download the hotel list here: List of recommended hotels

Don't hestitate to contact us for any questions or further information!



Cell phone: +43 664 88790872