“The arc of the moral universe is long—but it bends toward justice.”

– Martin Luther King Jr. (1965)

“I think [the arc of history] bends towards chaos.”           

– Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)


Call for projects

A half-century divides these words. So which sentiment rings truer? And how do such truths resonate through the world’s musical, noisy, and silent bodies? 

From Plato to Public Enemy, people have debated the relationship between music and justice—rarely arriving at much consensus over the artform’s ethics and aesthetics, uses and abuses, virtues and vices. So what roles can music and musicians play in agendas of justice? And what should musicians and music scholars do if—during moments of upheaval, complacency, ennui—music ends up seemingly drained of its beauty, power, and even relevance?

In academia, the actual words social justice don't pop up much in authors’ titles or lexicons. Such omission—silence—is revealing. It’s as if social justice constitutes some obvious-thing-we’re-always-talking-about-but-which-shall-not-be-named. Social justice is appealing but can also come off holier-than-thou, overambitious, grandiose. Invoking social justice sounds woke while also sounding luxuriously entitled in calling de facto dibs on the right side (of the long arc) of history. Social justice is a call to arms but also brings to mind Social Justice Warrior (SJW), a label pejoratively thrown at unapologetic (allegedly overzealous) activist-crusaders. Of course social justice matters. It’s so painfully obvious as a matter of course, however, that some of us might understandably abstain from addressing its concerns head-on. And painful such concerns may be.

An evolving word cloud of potential (by no means comprehensive) themes for this series. Courtesy of www.wordclouds.com

An evolving word cloud of potential (by no means comprehensive) themes for this series. Courtesy of www.wordclouds.com

Our series welcomes projects that lend new perspectives on such familiar subjects as protest songs, humanitarian artists, war and peace, community formation, applied ethnomusicology, and other studies pertaining to resistance, relief, or repair. Simultaneously, we seek authors delving into creative spaces between straightforward narratives of sound as salvation or corruption. We urge authors to queer, crip, race, and decolonize the limits of what scholars can do, can be, and can change. And we encourage authors who wish to trouble the rhetorical and discursive norms of conventional scholarly prose in the name of experimentalism, activism, anti-capitalism, anti-colonialism, and neurodiversity.

We expect this series to give rise to myriad perspectives that both jibe and clash. Works drawing vivid and chromatic arcs, yes; stacked into pretty rainbows, no. Through consonance and dissonance, Music and Social Justice lends a platform for conversations about surviving and thriving in worlds past, present, and future.


How to Submit

Prospective authors should submit the following electronic materials to series editors William Cheng (william.cheng@dartmouth.edu) and Andrew Dell’Antonio (dellantonio@austin.utexas.edu), as well as University of Michigan Press Editorial Director Mary Francis (mfranci@umich.edu). Here are the general guidelines for University of Michigan Press submissions (from the UMP website and modified for this series):

We ask that you submit the following materials:

1.  A narrative statement addressing

  •  the purpose of your project (one single-spaced page)
  •  similar or competing works in your field
  •  the audiences you envision for your project
  •  why your project is suitable for the Music and Social Justice series
  •  the manuscript’s anticipated length (and the number of illustrations)
  •  your timetable for completing the project

2.  A table of contents

3.  Summaries of your chapters

4.  One or two sample chapters (preferably not the Introduction)

5.  A curriculum vitae for all authors or volume editors; for edited volumes, please include a list of your contributors along with their qualifications (and professional affiliations if applicable)

For more information, read Mary Francis's Guide to Writing a Book Proposal.

Note: For projects that cannot be straightforwardly confined to text or print alone, authors will work the editors to plan, devise, and implement alternate modes of multimedia presentation.



As noted above, general queries and formal proposals should be sent to William Cheng (william.cheng@dartmouth.edu), Andrew Dell’Antonio (dellantonio@austin.utexas.edu), and Mary Francis (mfranci@umich.edu). Questions may also be directed to Advisory Board members who work in your areas of interest: Naomi André (nandre@umich.edu), Suzanne Cusick (suzanne.cusick@gmail.com), Ellie Hisama (eh2252@columbia.edu), Mark Katz (mkatz@email.unc.edu), Alejandro Madrid (alm375@cornell.edu), Darryl McDaniels (dmcluvzmc@yahoo.com), Carol Oja (coja@fas.harvard.edu), and Shana Redmond (shana.redmond@schoolofmusic.ucla.edu).