Revolution Panel

Saturday, April 14, 2:30pm
Geiringer Hall
George Blake, chair

"Power Chords and the Crisis of Globalization: Neoliberalism, Youth Disenfranchisement, and Heavy Metal Music"

Aurore Diehl, American Studies
University of New Mexico

In the 1980s, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher promoted neoliberal policies in response to economic stagnation. The policies they spearheaded have resulted in an ever-diminishing standard of living for the global poor and working class. For the generations of young people who came of age in those years and all subsequent cohorts of youth, the significance of global neoliberalism is that they will have to work as hard as or harder than their parents in return for considerably less social goods. In this paper I trace how the youth subculture of heavy metal music has spread through the networks of global trade and provides disenfranchised youth worldwide with a means to internal, and sometimes external, opposition to the anomic forces of social exclusion. This paper visits four specific sites where the disaffected youth produced by neoliberal policies have applied heavy metal culture as an oppositional technology. Like merchant ships carrying unexpected flora and fauna in their ballast tanks, I argue that the forces of global neoliberalism and Western cultural homogeneity may carry with them the means to combat their at least some of their untoward effects: the oppositional youth cultures of the West, heavy metal music being one example.

"Nostalgic Resistance: Popular Music During Iran's 2009 Green Movement"

Theresa Steward, Music
University of Edinburgh

The 2009 Iranian presidential election had a profound effect on popular music in Iran. Music was used throughout reform candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi's election campaign, as a way to appeal to and unite young Iranian voters. But as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election was a disappointment to many, post-election protests created yet another space for new reactionary music as Iranian musicians, not only in Tehran, but also in the Diaspora, turned their emotional defeat and frustration toward their music. Popular music in Iran has reached new levels as a politically charged medium, creating a greater sense of community fighting toward a common goal. The internet has been the main vehicle for this musical expression, as songs and music videos are easily accessible, asserting the message of the Green Movement.

The role of music in the recent election and the resultant Green Movement has created an even greater awareness of conflict between the younger generation of Iran and the current regime. Through analysis of music used during and after the election, and personal accounts from those involved in the election process and protests, this paper will being to provide a greater understanding of the power of music in the hands of Iranian youth. Popular music in Iran has the great potential to influence and unite young Iranians all over the world as they seek to establish a future of their own.

"Singing the Songs of the Egyptian Revolution"

Lillie Gordon, Ethnomusicology
University of California, Santa Barbara

2011 has been a tumultuous year in Egyptian history. The January 25th Revolution, with its worldwide impact and media coverage, helped spark numerous global movements calling for both large and small-scale reforms. In the case of Egypt, songs played a key role in the protests. Those calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak motivated themselves and garnered attention through the performance of old and new repertoire addressing social injustice at various phases of modern Egyptian history. The music played by the protestors mirrors the various forces impacting Egyptian politics in general, with some songs calling on the Arab tradition strongly and others taking cues from American popular genres. In this interactive workshop, we will contextualize, discuss and learn to sing a number of the protestors' songs, including Shaykh Imām's "Hanghanni" (1974) and Ramy Essam's "Revolution Song" (2011). Through this exercise, we will embody both the historical consciousness and contemporary innovations that bred these protest movement. In doing so, we will momentarily enliven the meeting point of music and crisis.

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