Music and memory politics: emergence, history, appropriations

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The forms of representation in every period

Music and memory politics: emergence, history, appropriations

  • Presentation
Music and memory politics: emergence, history, appropriations
Couverture de disque de "Folk music", Kerala (Inde). Photo: Christine Guillebaud

Seeking to reconstruct the music of the past and its history is an old preoccupation. Since the 19th century, the orientalist imaginary has significantly nourished the idea of “original music.” Whether speaking of “pharaonic,” “Arab,” or “Hindu” music, the same reference to the past, seen as prestigious and immutable, has contributed to the rationalization of music knowledge on the base of constructed filiations. If the orientalist period is now well documented, few works treat the musical element of memory constructions since the beginning of the 20th century. During this same period marked by the emergence of nationalist politics, new supposedly historical filiations appeared. In various countries, these filiations served to construct identities that aim to inscribe local artistic heritages in the “glorious” nation. These local heritages have been redefined these last few decades in the framework of heritage politics initiated by the private CD market and the digital distribution of music.

The present project aims to understand the processes by which local music (Indian, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, European) has been reinvented after establishing this link to the past and how this past has induced a radical change of status within the societies studied. To this end, the project utilizes a range of ethnographies, from national politics since the 1930s to private politics of the early 21st century, as well as their respective implications for the affected musical practices.

Project leader
Christine Guillebaud, CNRS researcher, Center of Research in Ethnomusicology (CREM)

Internal cluster partners
Laboratory of Comparative Ethnology and Sociology (LESC, UMR 7186, CNRS – University of Paris West) Center of Research in Ethnomusicology (CREM)
Quai Branly Museum, Media library; Department of research and instruction

Associated Partners
Institute of Ethnomusicology (INET), New University of Lisbon, Portugal
Museum of Ethnography of Vietnam, Hanoi

Duration: 3 years