The Stage and the Ring is an interrogation into the relationships between music and boxing in London. Awarded the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, it is supported by the Institute for Popular Music and hosted at the Music Department at the University of Liverpool. This project was awarded the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions Seal of Excellence in 2019 under Horizon 2020, the EU Programme for Research and Innovation.
The Stage and the Ring explores the relationship between music and boxing through a focus on the musical and social life of the sport in contemporary London. Research foci include: (1) music and boxing negotiated through identity and performance; (2) branding in musical and sporting cultures as performance of identity in arbitration of socio-economic issues; (3) music-sport branding as hyper-visual representation of identity and performance. Critically situating branding as an integrated sociocultural performative practice, this project links music and boxing through ethnographic insight into fighters and their clubs, fans and followers. Aspects thus encompassed include, the fight, a spectacular and competitive rendition of identity wherein each fighter walks into the ring to a signature song. Training is a performance of identity exacted in discipline alongside a soundtrack, informing the ‘ring walk’ track, the ‘rhythm’ of the fighter’s footwork and the breaking of their opponent’s ‘groove’. Showcasing performative strategies and stylistic content in complex enactments of identity, this study furthers emerging cross-disciplinary research innovation linking ethnomusicology, sociology and sport, and media and visual studies. It includes dissemination into wider publics in a state-of-the-art engagement with the visual through a website, alongside publications and papers.
Dr Simran Singh is the principal investigator of this study, conducted with the mentorship of Dr Haekyung Um.
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