School of Social and Political Science

From Afrobeat to Afrobeats: an Inter-generational Debate on African Popular Music and its Reception in the Global North

24 March 2021
16:00 - 17:30


Microsoft Teams


The dissemination of digital media and technology has ensured that pop music today is increasingly produced electronically, in Africa as in the rest of the world. The spread of these technologies is understood by many actors and observers as a democratising force; on the other hand, acoustic musicians frequently lament their ousting by omnipresent electro-pop music and express their criticism, some of which is echoed in the global North: While older genres and even the first wave of world music offered room for handmade sounds (even if these served exoticism), today's autotune-styled Afropop is confronted with the accusation to imitate U.S. role models and to be part of a 'world music 2.0', whose postmodern eclecticism ultimately produces homogeneity.

It is also striking that, despite their great popularity, contemporary African pop genres are neither taken seriously as an object of scholarly study on the continent, nor elsewhere. And where they are studied, researchers are usually less interested in the music than in its social, cultural, and economic contexts. Is the reason for this an outdated aesthetic perception, or can it be linked to the fact that artists frequently see themselves primarily as entrepreneurs rather than musicians?

Hauke Dorsch and Tom Simmert adress these questions and discuss them as controversially as possible.

For more information, email the Centre of African Studies at

Key speakers

  • Speaker: Hauke Dorsch (University of Mainz)Speaker: Tom Simmert (University of Mainz)