Dr Poonam Madar writes chapter for a new book exploring the genres of 21st century Black music.

By Hamish Armstrong(Senior Communications Officer), Published

Challenging media perceptions that certain music genres and artists impact negatively on Black men is key to understanding the range of identities they inhabit, according to Dr Poonam Madar, Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of International Politics at City, University of London.

In a chapter for a new book released last week, Dr Madar examines the significance of looking and seeing in the context of Black British masculinities and Black music. She argues that the way Black male culture is defined by music is more complex than is often portrayed in the news and popular culture – with the need to look beyond “common sense” knowledge based on the assumption that the relationship between seeing and knowing is obvious.

Dr Poonam MadarBlack Music in Britain in the 21st Century examines many current genres from Afro Swing to drill, as well as historic ones which have found new life in 21st century Britain like gospel, reggae and jazz. Dr Madar’s chapter is titled ‘Ways of Seeing: Black male identity(ies) and the politics of Black music’.

The title features contributions from many writers, researchers and theorists and uses innovative interdisciplinary approaches to understand Black music cultures in 21st century Britain. These include drawing knowledge from sociology, musicology and emerging digital humanities fields.

Dr Madar, whose research focuses on the sociology of emotion and visual culture and encompasses both academia and curation, said the chapter should evoke new perspectives.

“Other than sound, music also has a corresponding visual component to it,” she said.

“As such, this chapter explores the ways in which such visual imagery plays a significant role in the construction of individual and collective identity.

“At the crux of this chapter is an invitation for us consider and reconsider our own and others’ ways of seeing the world but to also examine the relationship between what we see and what we know.”

The new book launched last week with a panel event at SOAS, University of London, where the authors delved into the key arguments raised in the book.

Alongside the publication, the authors have compiled a Spotify playlist of tracks relevant to themes and research that underpin the book. The list contains music from Stormzy, Little Sims and So Solid Crew, alongside Carroll Thompson and the London Community Gospel Choir.

Black Music in Britain in the 21st Century (Liverpool University Press) is available to purchase now.

About Dr Poonam Madar

Dr Poonam Madar is a writer and sociologist with a background in research, visual culture, and the sociology of emotions.

Dr Madar's research interests and expertise include the use of visual methods to explore themes of identity, culture, difference, and belonging. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at City, University of London, and is currently working on a number of forthcoming publications. Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, Poonam designed and delivered the May 2022 Ealing Writing Trail.

She is also a therapeutic and reflective writing practitioner and the founder of Working Warrior.