Preserving the history of hip-hop earns honour for researcher

Mark Campbell
Mark V. Campbell earns Connaught New Researcher Award

Tina Adamopoulos

For the last decade, Mark V. Campbell has worked to preserve and celebrate Canada’s rich hip-hop history through Northside Hip Hop –– a growing digital archive he’s developed with the help of networks in the music industry and academia.

The idea for the archive came when Campbell, who was embedded in local hip-hop scenes as a community radio host, was planning to teach its history for a high-school class. But the work of the community, mostly from the late 1990s and early 2000s, wasn’t documented online.

“I realized that nothing we had done made it to the internet, and there was no way to convince my students that Canada had a thriving hip-hop community,” says Campbell, an assistant professor in the department of arts, culture and media at U of T Scarborough.

Campbell is a recipient of this year’s Connaught New Researcher Award. The award helps new U of T faculty develop a strong research program, with the goal of achieving external funding.

Next summer, he will begin field research for a new project, Hip-Hop Archives: Remixing the Production of Knowledge. The project will explore how political economies affect the preservation of hip-hop history in countries like France, Cuba and New Zealand.

“My research is really looking at the factors that impact the possibility of a hip-hop exhibition happening and whether or not an exhibition grows to become an archive.”

Digging into hip-hop histories in the context of the Global South will also reveal the uneven sets of actors, forces and influencers which impact the possibility of archiving the hip-hop cultures.

“There are huge academic institutions that have the infrastructure to catalogue and make sense out of hip-hop’s history,” Campbell says. “This isn’t the case in places like Cuba, where the government is involved in Afro-Cuban hip-hop history, but there aren’t necessarily powerful universities that can take hip-hop into an archival realm, particularly in a digital age, where analogue artifacts are disappearing.”

Here is the full list of Connaught New Researcher Award winners from UTSC:

Elizabeth Acorn, Governance at Home and Abroad: The Origins and Impact of Corporate Criminal Law in Canada


Michael William Best, An Examination of Factors Underlying Neurocognitive Impairment in Schizophrenia: Defeatist Beliefs, Mood, and Amotivation


Waqas Butt, Cities of Change: Urbanisation, Infrastructures and the Environment of Pakistan


Mark Campbell, Hip-Hop Archives: Remixing the Production of Knowledge


Laurent Xavier C. Cavenaile, The Disappearing Middle Class and Educational Attainment


Urvashi Chakravarty, Dark Futures: Slavery and the Reproduction of Race in the Early Modern British Atlantic World


Anup Grewal, Chinese Socialist Feminist Imaginaries and their Global Context


Cassandra Hartblay, Cripping Communitas: Performance Ethnography Research on the Disability Theatre Process


Christopher Higgins, Form, Function, and Local Dynamics: Measuing Neighborhood Morophological and Behavioural Context in Toronto


Scott MacIvor, Healthy Soils for Ground-Nesting Bees: the Next Step in Conservation and Pollination Service Delivery


Adam Martin, The Role of Wood Chemical Traits in Global Forest Carbon Dynamics


Glenn Mott, The Evolution of a Complex Signaling Network that Controls Plant Growth and Defense


Christian Pfeiffer, Aristotle's Metaphysics H


Laura Risk, Sustaining Community Music-Making in Quebec Through Historical Inquiry and Mobilization of Audiovisual Archives


Nicholas Spence, The Impact of Social Context (Income Inequality) on Health Among Indigenous Peoples in Canada


Ting Kam Leonard Wong, New Tools for Statistics and Machine Learning Using Logarithmic Divergences