‘No radical critique ever comes from the centre’

Interview with Professor Bruce Johnson


  • Adam Havas Milestone Institute




jazz diaspora, cultural globalization, new jazz studies, periphery, Bruce Johnson


In addition to providing an overview of some of the major milestones of Professor Bruce Johnson’s scholarly trajectory spanning over three decades in the fields of popular music and (new) jazz studies, the subsequent dialogue represents a critical approach to dominant trends characterizing Western jazz historiography. Drawing on Johnson’s influential scholarly works as well as on his research experiences in Australia and Europe, the interview sheds light on the meaningful ways through which geographical differences are intertwined with epistemological distinctions related to the construction of global jazz histories. The thematic areas covered, such as the complex relationship between the notions of popular music and jazz, or the revolutionary potential of marginal positions to challenge conventional Anglo-European narratives, are conceptually connected to the emerging field of diasporic jazz research of which Johnson is one of the major pioneers. The particular dynamics stemming from the interviewer’s position as an Eastern European sociologist and a senior Australian popular music scholar lend a particular dynamic to the discussion over some relevant contemporary issues in global jazz scholarship.

Author Biography

  • Adam Havas, Milestone Institute

    Adam Havas, Head of Social Sciences Division, Milestone Institute, Budapest.


Becker, H. S. 1982. Art Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Bourdieu, P. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

DeVeaux, S. 1997. The Birth of Bebop. A Social and Musical History. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Gebhardt, Nicholas et al. eds. 2019. The Routledge Companion to Jazz Studies. New York: Routledge.

Havas, A. 2020. ‘The Logic of Distinctions in the Hungarian Jazz Field: A Case Study of Hungarian Jazz’. Popular Music (forthcoming)

Järviluoma, Helmi ed. 1994. Soundscapes: essays on vroom and moo. Department of Folk Tradition. Institute of Rhythm Music.

Johnson, Bruce ed. 1987. The Oxford Companion of Australian Jazz. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Johnson, B. 2000. The Inaudible Music: Jazz, Gender and Australian Modernity. Sydney: Currency Press.

Johnson, Bruce 2002. ‘Jazz as Cultural Practice’. In The Cambridge Companion to Jazz, eds David Horn and Mervyn Cooke, 96–113. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Johnson, B. 2019. ‘Diasporic Jazz’. In The Routledge Companion to Jazz Studies, eds Nicholas Gebhardt et al., 17–27. New York: Routledge.

Johnson, B. 2019. Jazz Diaspora: Music and Globalisation. New York: Routledge.





Extended Play

How to Cite

Havas, A. (2021). ‘No radical critique ever comes from the centre’: Interview with Professor Bruce Johnson. Jazz Research Journal, 14(1), 79–89. https://doi.org/10.1558/jazz.41470