Music and Political Democratisation in Late Twentieth Century

5-6 November 2020

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak these study days will take place as an online event.

This event aims to innovatively question how musical practices formed ways of imagining democracy in the democratic transitions that took place after Portugal’s ‘Carnation Revolution’ in 1974—what Huntington (1991) called the ‘third wave’ of democratisation, which involves more than 60 countries throughout Europe, Latin America, Asia, and AfricaRather than studying music’s diverse deployments within these political contexts (music ‘in’ transitions to democracy), these study days place the emphasis upon ways in which music embodies democratisation processes and participates in the wider social struggle to define freedom and equality for the post authoritarian era (hence the ‘and’ in the title of the event).

As political science has shown, democracy is a highly contested category, one that has been imagined in many different ways, and any particular realisation of which carries costs as well as benefits. According to the historian of democracy Pierre Rosanvallon, the rise of democracy has historically represented both a promise and a problem for a society: ‘a promise insofar as democracy reflected the needs of societies founded on the dual imperative of equality and autonomy; and a problem, insofar as these noble ideals were a long way from being realized’ (2008:2). These complex facets of democracy became especially apparent in the political context of transition to democracy after an authoritarian regime, leading to an entangled struggle between different ‘ideas’ and ‘practices’ of democracy (Albertus and Menaldo, 2018).

Thus, these study days also seek to engage in a comparative discussion of how music framed different ideas of democracy in post-authoritarian transitions during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. How did musical practices instantiate ideas of democracy in these political contexts? Inversely, how did such democratic values inform musical practice? How did musicians negotiate between creative autonomy and social responsibility? And more broadly, what is the role of musical culture in a transition to democracy?


Thursday, 5 November (15h30-17h45, UK time zone)

15h30-15h45 Introductory words (Robert Adlington and Igor Contreras Zubillaga)

15h45-16h15 Diego García-Peinazo (Universidad de Granada): “A(n) (Popular Music) Anthem for Post-Franco Spain? Performing Transition to Democracy and Beyond Around Jarcha’s ‘Libertad sin ira’ (1976)”

16h15-16h45 Alicia Pajón Fernández (Universidad de Oviedo): “The View of Popular Music in the Press During the Spanish Transition to Democracy: The Difficult Compromise Between Idealism and Capitalism”

15 min. break

17h00-17h30 Núria Bonet (University of Plymouth): “Musical Democracy in Chilean Prisons During Pinochet’s Dictatorship (1973-1990)”

17h30-17h45 Round up

Friday, 6 November (15h00-18h30, UK time zone)

15h00-15h30 William Fourie (Rhodes University): “Composing the Interregnum: Kevin Volans and South Africa’s Transition to Democracy”

15h30-16h00 Mamadou Drame (Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar, Senegal): “Faire le procès des indépendances 40 ans après : réflexions autour de l’avis des jeunes africains par le biais du hip hop et de la littérature postindépendance”

16h00-16h30 Seonhwa Lee (Royal Holloway, University of London): “The symbolic position of music embodied in democracy and politics: the example of the protest song 임을 위한 행진곡’ (Marching for Our Beloved)

15 min. break

16h45-18h00 Keynote Lecture: Marina Frolova-Walker (University of Cambridge): “Revolution, Trauma, and a Transition to Nowhere: Thoughts on Russian Music and Culture post-1991”

18h00-18h30 Concluding thoughts

To download the programme with abstracts, click HERE