Key Research Interests and Expertise

‘Cultural studies with a soundtrack’ is how Prof McKay's website strapline describes his research interests.

More specifically: alternative cultures/ counterculture, popular music, jazz, disability in culture and media, subcultures and post-subcultures, festival and the carnivalesque, social movements and protest, gardens and gardening, autonomy/anarchism, community music, participatory arts, practice/production-as-research. 

Among his books are: 

  • Senseless Acts of Beauty: Cultures of Resistance since the Sixties (Verso, 1996) 
  • DiY Culture: Party & Protest in Nineties Britain (ed., Verso, 1998)
  • Glastonbury: A Very English Fair (Gollancz, 2000)
  • Community Music: A Handbook (co-ed. with Pete Moser, Russell House, 2004)
  • Issues in Americanisation and Culture (eds, with Neil Campbell & Jude Davies, Edinburgh UP, 2004)
  • Circular Breathing: The Cultural Politics of Jazz in Britain (Duke UP, 2005)
  • Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism and Rebellion in the Garden (Frances Lincoln, 2011)
  • Shakin' All Over: Popular Music and Disability (University of Michigan Press, 2013)
  • The Pop Festival: History, Music, Media, Culture (ed., Bloomsbury, 2015)
  • Music From Out There, in Here: 25 Years of London Jazz Festival (with Emma Webster, AHRC/UEA, 2017).
  • The Oxford Handbook of Punk Rock (eds., with Gina Arnold, Oxford UP, forthcoming 2021).

He was founding co-editor in 2002 oSocial Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest (Routledge), and associate editor (1993-2002) of the BAAS Paperback Series (Edinburgh UP). He was special issue editor of the journal Popular Music (28:3; 2009) on the theme of popular music and disability. He currently co-edits the Connected Communities: Creating a New Knowledge Landscape series for Policy Press, is a member of the editorial board of Jazz Research Journal and consulting editor of Social Movement Studies.

Selected recent keynote lectures

  • 2019: UCLan/Preston Jazz Festival, 'Jazz and cultural identity'.
  • 2018: University of Fribourg. Burning Man and Transformational Festival conference
  • 2018: University of Porto. KISMIF conference
  • 2017: Milano Jazz Festival one-day conference, Triennale
  • 2017: Continental Drift conference and Edinburgh Jazz Festival
  • 2016: Twelve Points Festival, San Sebastian. ‘The music festival in Europe'
  • 2016: Canterbury Christ Church University. MeCCSA annual conference,
  • 2015: Westminster University. Re-Imagining Rurality conference
  • 2014: University of Porto/Casa da Musica. KISMIF conference
  • 2014: Marabouparken art space, Stockholm. On Invasive Grounds exhibition
  • 2013: University of Aveido. Jazz Messengers conference
  • 2013: University of Murcia. Iberian Association of Cultural Studies biennial conference
  • 2012: University of Glamorgan, AHRC Live Music Exchange project conference
  • 2012: dOCUMENTA13, Kassel. ‘Multispecies and Seeds’ closing conference
  • 2012: Freie Garten Akademie no. 8, Münster. 

Grants, awards, projects 

Across his career, Prof McKay has been involved in over 30 externally funded UK and international projects, totalling over £4.5m in income generation.

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