The U2 Conference, in partnership with The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, Queen’s University, and Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, will meet 13-15 June 2018 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for academic and general audience sessions on the theme U2: POPVision.
As a conference theme, U2: POPVision invites investigating, articulating and critiquing the guiding visions specific to U2’s Pop era of 1997-98 for their efficacy then and now, as well as welcoming an examination of popular music’s power to cast visions that shape its own narrative and construct and complicate larger cultural conversations, in which U2’s visions have long been engaged.
U2 continues to wrestle with themes of innocence and experience, thus the conference is looking back 20 years to the Pop era that held both in tension. In addition to exploring U2’s Pop era in the context of popular culture’s ongoing story, U2: POPVision indicates the conference’s belief that Pop era contradictions, re-mix cultures, appeals for plurality and inclusivity speak as loudly in 2018 as some 20 years ago. U2: POPVision presumes a subversion and celebration of excess and a dance of the serious and superficial are necessary for compelling engagements with topics affecting large, diverse populations. U2: POPVision asks if what U2 expresses is central to and in tension with 21st century sensibilities, rapid messaging, social media practices, cultures of performance, expressions of faith and doubt, and reckonings with privilege, alienation and fragmentation.
As Belfast will mark in 2018 the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement – a major step as a peaceful agreement to seek non-violent resolutions to many conflicts in Northern Ireland, and an agreement which U2 publicly supported – the conference theme U2: POPVision further communicates the interest in studying how U2’s artistic visions help or hinder peace building, resolving personal and societal conflicts, and envisioning a more just, equitable and joyful world. An important theme of the conference is thus the wider relationship between music, art and peacebuilding.