Music and History in Plural Societies. French-German Perspectives

International conference

Since the dawn of the millennium, the understanding of history, memories and cultures of remembrance has increasingly included social, cultural and religious plurality. This concerns not only reflections on the polyphony of the historiography of a society in which "not everyone has the same history" (Zafer Şenocak), but also the content and narratives of history in a world characterized by mobility, migration, displacement and global networking. On the basis of the postcolonial approaches that are strongly debated in France or the concept of multidirectional memory (Michael Rothberg), which is also heavily criticized in the German-speaking world, very different discourses can be observed in individual geographical areas, which are themselves historically conditioned. At the same time, transnational approaches to a plural conception of history such as 'travelling memories' (Astrid Erll) have recently attracted increasing attention.

The conference is based on the assumption that music as a medium, but also in its diversity of genres, plays an important role in the reconceptualization of a contemporary plural history. This raises very different questions: To what extent can historical narratives and objects, memories, networks or life paths be transported and conveyed in music – without music always having to be understood as a universal medium of expression? In what ways is music suitable for reflecting historiographies, their narratives and interconnections in an artistic manner and enriching them with diverse voices? How do minorities or individual groups in today's societies achieve audibility and recognition through music and sound? Can musical practices, instruments and patterns of reception be used to link the music-historical discourses of a pluralistic society with general cultural and social history? And last but not least: How is the potential of music in connection with history and memory reflected in cultural studies or in other media?

At the conference, international experts from historical musicology, ethnomusicology, music anthropology, sociology and literary studies will talk about music as dialogue between different historiographical approaches, about negotiations of contemporary history and memory culture in various music-based media formats, about the audibility of ideas of the past and their political structures, and about the temporalities that play a role in dealing with themes relevant to history and memory in rap, contemporary music, music theatre and popular music.

The lectures of the multilingual conference will be held in German, English and French with summarising presentations in English.

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