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The Soundtrack of Revolution: Gender, Affect, and the Power of Protest Songs
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Musicology and Performance Studies, Musicology and Performance Studies.
2012 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]


Gender, Affect and the Power of Protest Songs


The wave of demonstrations in the Middle East, at Syntagma Square in Athens, the Occupy Wall Street in the United States, Los Indignados in Spain, and the student revolts in Chile are only a few examples of the return to the agora, classical Greece’s “gathering place” or city square where the free men could participate in contemporary democratic processes. The new social media are certainly powerful, but demonstrations in the streets are still needed in order to add force to the words, as was the case with large transnational anti-Vietnam war demonstrations in the late 1960s, the anti-globalization movement that began in 1999 in Seattle, anti-war demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq at the beginning of the 2000s, and all the different demonstrations of 2011.

    Those public protests and revolutions have all taken place to a background of different music. During the Arab spring of 2011 songs were defiantly performed in Tahir Square in downtown Cairo, and in Tunisia El General’s song “President, your people are dying” spread quickly via the Internet. Rap and hip-hop are the younger generation's protest music today, not least because it is inexpensive and relatively simple to create if you have something to say and establish a beat. Although the protest song is a clear-cut genre when it comes to promoting social criticism, in order to have an impact it must be part of a larger a political movement. This paper discusses examples of contemporary protest songs and the problem of having no unifying movement to which they can tie themselves. At the same time, this music can itself act as a new aggregator and become that missing cohesive element, as was the case during the Arab spring.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Södertörns högskola, 2012.
Keyword [en]
affect, gender, performance, protest song
National Category
Performing Art Studies Gender Studies
Research subject
Theatre Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-78743OAI: diva2:543507
Somatechnical Figurations: Kinship, Bodies, Affects
Available from: 2012-08-08 Created: 2012-08-08 Last updated: 2012-09-06Bibliographically approved

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