Sound System Outernational #6: Virtual Edition

It’s a strange time to do anything other than shelter in place or get out in the streets, but I’m looking forward to next week’s virtual gathering for Sound System Outernational #6, a conference and set of performances which I will help to kick off with an opening plenary next Tuesday, June 9.

I’m grateful to Julian Henriques, David Katz, Leonardo Vidigal, and other organizers for inviting me and pushing ahead with the event despite the disruptions of COVID-19. Originally, we were supposed to gather together this April in São Luís do Maranhão, and I’m very sorry that we couldn’t do so after all. As recounted by David Katz in a piece for Afropop Worldwide, São Luís is renowned for its vibrant and distinctive reggae / soundsystem culture, and I was excited to experience it for my own ears. That will have to wait for another moment, but the organizers have put together an interesting program, and I hope that the virtuality of the event means that even more people around the world might be able to join us.

My plenary is titled “Sounds of Affiliation: Records from Foreign and Diasporic Belonging,” and I will use the opportunity to discuss the remarkable ways that Jamaica’s soundsystem culture — originally devoted to playing imported sounds from the US — has been replicated elsewhere across the diaspora and localized in wonderful ways. Other presentations in the program will help to flesh out some of these pictures, whether in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Baranquilla, NYC, London, or elsewhere.

You can find the full program here, which is also where you can sign up to be a part of the event. Be sure to send your email to by June 8 in order to be included in the Zoom invite. Hope to “see” you there — and to gather together in São Luís in person someday.