In collaboration with de Illustere School, Faculty of Humanities (UvA)
During this study afternoon we will address questions like: how is sound implicated in everyday processes of local identity constructions? How does pop negotiate place at different levels (local, national, regional, global)? And how does the musical city function as a site of negotiation for identities in relation to wider globalizing forces?
Globalization, to say the least, challenges traditional notions of identity. Ongoing processes of cross-cultural interchange, international economic interdependence and increasing mobilization have led to the need to redefine our understanding of the relationship between global processes and practices of local meaning-making. Specific places like the City have become a vital cite for negotiations of contemporary social, material, and political realities, and lie at the intersection of global imaginations and local urban culture.
Popular music plays a pivotal role in these urban struggles over identity and place and is an active performer in the negotiations between global media flows on the one hand and a fierce demarcation and vindication of local traditions on the other. As an important cultural sphere in which identities are affirmed, challenged, taken apart and reconstructed’ (Connell and Gibson 2003, p. 117), popular music resonates simultaneously with globalizing discourses of late capitalism and neoliberalism as well as with the trend to fetishize locality.
During this study afternoon, organized by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) in collaboration with the ASCA research group “Sonic Territories – of Music and Place”, we will address questions like: how is sound implicated in everyday processes of local identity constructions? How does pop negotiate place at different levels (local, national, regional, global)? And how does the musical city function as a site of negotiation for identities in relation to wider globalizing forces?
Lament for a Dying City: Wellington’s Contemporary Music Scene
In this discussion, I want to explore aspects of Wellington, New Zealand’s contemporary music scene in the context of a city deemed by the country’s Prime Minister to be “dying.” Lamentations for the waning culture of a city are a common trope, which announces itself in different ways in different urban contexts. In the case of Wellington, a city which has nominated itself the cultural capital of the country, this species of rhetoric finds a different resonance due to the city’s reliance on policies which draw heavily from the imported and well as local images of what makes a creative city. I want to take this figure of a dying city and examine it in light of the recent scene, as it waxes and wanes according to seismic, economic and demographic shifts.
Dr. Geoff Stahl is a Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. His research focuses on urban culture and popular music. He has published articles on musicmaking Montreal, Berlin and Wellington and is the editor of the forthcoming collection, “Poor, But Sexy: Reflections on Berlin Scenes” (Peter Lang forthcoming, 2013).
Both place and space, although they are wedded to material specificities, are perhaps foremost – as they necessarily relate to social actors – constructions. And while not wishing to elide the very constructedness of the human body itself, or suggest a type of universal explanans via “somatics,” in this short talk I would like to foreground lived, corporeal experience as partly foundational to experiences – and thus constructions – of place and space. Drawing upon both phenomenological theory, as well as fieldwork in the United States and Russia, the interrelatedness of the body, sex, sexuality, and popular musics will be highlighted as essential to formations of situated subjectivities and intersubjectivities for specific groups of gay men in particular urban settings.
Dr. Stephen Amico is an Assistant Professor in the departments of Music and Mediastudies at the University of Amsterdam. His book, Roll Over Tchaikovsky: Russian Popular Music and Post-Soviet Homosexuality will be released next year by University of Illinois Press.
Sons of William Tell
Music and identity in post-Revolutionary Cuban popular music
Since the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the state machinery was highly concerned with the formation of an official cultural canon in relation to the articulation of a new Cuban national identity. Initially music proved to be a great means of articulating the political message of this “Revolutionary state,” but ever since the 1980s the younger generations of musicians refused to comply with a revolutionary discourse they no longer identified themselves with. Due to state censorship they ended up being marginalized as musicians, which caused them to record, spread and perform their music in the “underground” urban scene of Havana. In this specific context, highly relevant questions with a broader significance can be addressed: What role does music play in the definition of one’s identity? How can music mediate in the articulation of a different understanding of “place” and “territory” when the borders between inside and outside – of the nation, the legitimized urban or musical realm, or even musical tune – come to blur? And how can specific places of the Cuban diasporic territory such as Havana, Miami and Madrid function as signifiers for diasporic or marginal identities?
Jeffrey Pijpers is currently combining his PhD on music and identities in the contexts of post-Revolutionary Cuba and 1970s Brazil at ASCA with a job in IT sales and occasionally makes his appearance as a guest-musician on a variety of musical ventures throughout Europe.
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