Resistance Through Music: What are the Limits and Potential in Popular Music?

Kunstquartier Studio 1, Mariannenplatz 2, 10997 Berlin Map
Tickets: 5 € / 8 € day pass


13:00 14:00

Research into relations between music and politics is fraught with contradictions, ranging from the highly optimistic to far more limited. For the most part, there is agreement that music communicates meanings, some of these being subversive politics, though studies rarely detail what that subversion means and how it is articulated. This presentation demonstrates how musical sounds, lyrics, and images articulate politics of protest, by closely analysing a protest video from the Gezi Park Protests in Turkey.

Istanbul’s Gezi Park protests started on 28 May 2013. A demonstration by a few city planners and environmentalists quickly grew into approximately 3.5 million people protesting in over 80 cities. Protests attracted diverse groups who were against aspects of the ruling Justice and Development Party such as perceived infringements on democracy, freedom, repressive police tactics, and government policies.

June 2013 also saw an explosion of music videos distributed on the internet which called for resistance. From a corpus of over 140 videos, a typical example is analysed employing Multimodal Critical Discourse Studies to examine the limits and potential of popular music's articulation of resistance to government policies. It is found that videos have the potential to contribute to public discussions of resistance. However, this is limited to a mix of expressions of anger, populism, and authenticity, rather than a direct critique of the government’s policies, including Neo-Liberal economics and environmental concerns, the original reasons for the protests.


Lyndon CS Way[UK]

Lyndon C.S. Way received his PhD in Journalism from Cardiff University and is a lecturer of media and communications at Liverpool Hope University. He critically examines the political potential of popular music through advances in musicology and primarily through Multimodal Critical Discourse Studies.

Matthias Haenisch[DE]

Matthias Haenisch is a research associate of the research group “MuBiTec – Music learning with mobile technologies” (University of Cologne, Berlin University of the Arts, University of Erfurt, University of Lübeck; promoted by the Federal Ministry of Education and Science), where his research concerns, among other things, questions of socialization, subjectification and aesthetic experience in postdigital communities.

Dahlia Borsche[DE]

Dahlia Borsche is musicologist and curator. In 2019 she took on the position of Head of Music at the DAAD Artist-In-Berlin programme.

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