Folk-Music Practices and Polyphonic Nationalisms in Europe

Call for Papers

University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, September 26-29, 2023


Download the CfP as pdf


 

In various parts Europe, the recent emergence and election successes of far-right populist and Eurosceptic political parties such as the German Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) have, especially in light of increased migration and the so-called refugee crisis, raised important questions regarding the meanings of national identification (Schiller 2020; Doehring and Ginkel 2022). As powerful expressive media, so often circulated by popular culture, folk-music practices (and their consumption) have long been integral to complex processes of identity-building, -negotiation, and -contestation (Kaminsky 2012). At the same time, the cognitive praxis (Eyerman and Jamison 1998) and shared objectives of folk-revival and protest-song movements in Europe and beyond (Dillane et al. 2018) have sought to manifest alternative imaginaries of the nation through music and song. Historically, German philosopher and theologian Johann Gottfried Herder’s (1744–1803) late-Enlightenment theses on folk music as a pivotal marker of cultural distinctiveness (Herder 1778–79) were highly influential in sounding several modern European nation-states into being. Crucially, Herder’s work supplied the European Romantic cultural nationalist intelligentsia with materials for installing highly varied registers of musical and national exceptionalism. While in some nations, invocations of musical exceptionalism were used to legitimate imperial expansionism (Applegate 2017), others harnessed these to claim cultural and political autonomy from a long history of colonial oppression (White 1998).

In a current climate of rising (neo)nationalism, right-wing extremism and enclosing xenophobia in Europe–albeit, frequently elided through folk-music practitioners’ increased insistence upon the primacy of high-level technical prowess within “the music itself” (Slominski 2020)–this symposium seeks to critically engage the myriad trajectories of folk-musical nationalisms, past and present, in a European framework. To clarify, by invoking the term “polyphony” in its title, the symposium takes as its point of departure ethnomusicologist Philip Bohlman’s (2010: 5) tenet that nationalism no longer solely “enters music from the top, that is, from state institutions and ideologies,” but that it may in fact “build its path into music from just about any angle, as long as there are artists and audiences willing to mobilize cultural movement from those angles.” Thus, teasing out the manner in which national(ist) discourses recursively shape the practices and experiences of folk music will be a central task of this symposium. Prospective participants are invited to submit proposals for individual papers, panels and roundtables engaging with the overarching topic. Presentation themes may include, but are not limited to, the following foci:

 

  • Folk music affirming/subverting/contesting the nation-state
  • Folk revival movements (re-)imagining the nation
  • Folk music and extreme European nationalisms during the twentieth century
  • Folk music and neonationalism in Europe
  • Evading the nation and claiming the primacy of “the music itself”
  • Intersections between folk music, popular culture and populism
  • European folk music and folk dance during/after the Cold-War
  • Gendered, sexual, racialized and class-based implications of folk-music practices and nationalism in various parts of Europe

 

The keynote will be delivered by André Doehring (University of Music and Performing Arts Graz)

 

Please direct paper proposals in the form of an abstract (250 words) and a short bibliography (150 words) to the organizer, Dr. Felix Morgenstern:1

felix.morgenstern@kug.ac.at

Submission Deadline: April 30, 2023

Note: The symposium will be held in English. Notifications regarding accepted contributions will be circulated in May 2023. The event will take place in both on-site and online/virtual formats. The participation of young scholars is encouraged – financial support for travel and accommodation expenses of early-career scholars is envisioned. In the meanwhile, please feel free to get in contact with any queries that may arise.

 


1 The symposium is supported through Dr. Morgenstern‘s FWF-funded research project (Austrian Science Fund, Lise-Meitner Grant M3292-G) “Irish Folk in Austria: Evading National Identity” (2021–2023) and finances of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz.