African Music and Politics: Negotiations of Violence in South African Popular Music
The project centers on a couple of key questions:
- How can music – through its unique combination of sound, text, rhythm, and movement – support the popularization of political messages, particularly those negotiating the (il-)legitimacy of political violence and the accompanying construction of group boundaries?
- How do musicians and producers understand, construct and reconstruct the politicalness of their songs and acts of music making? And how do different political actors use popular songs, including collective singing and dancing, to further their cause?
- How does the South African case challenge established assumptions about the relationship between high and popular culture, mostly developed on the basis of European historical examples? And how does it allow theorizing gendered, racialized and ideological cleavages in popular music cultures that seem insignificant vis-à-vis the influential high-low and elite-popular differentiations?
The research project draws on the analysis of songs, interviews, observations, videos and written documents. The initial sample of songs includes struggle songs as well as songs from other musical genres like “Bubblegum” or Kwaito. It is continuously developed by employing theoretical sampling based on the empirical work, and by following pertinent songs through their history of musical and political reinterpretations.
The project is part of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) "Transformations of the Popular" at the University of Siegen.
The CRC is funded by the DFG, Germany’s major self-governing organization for science and research.
Prof. Dr. Katharina Inhetveen
Chair of General Sociology I
Dr. Anna Schwenck
Research Associate (Postdoc)
Maximilian Breger M.A.
African Music Archives (AMA), Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz
AOM (Anthropology of Music), Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz
Bembeya Archive for the Music and Cultures of Africa / Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Bender
"Popular Music and the Rise of Populism in Europe" / Transnational research project funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung