/ Music and Politics

Music and Politics is an open access, peer-reviewed, academic journal first published in 2007. More...

Recommended Reading:
This Is What Democracy Sounds Like: Sound, Music, and Performance at the Women’s March and Beyond
Volume XIII, Issue 1 (Winter 2019)


Please send all inquiries and submissions to musicandpolitics@umich.edu.

Recent Issues


Editorial Board

  • Paul Attinello (University of Newcastle)
  • Michael Beckerman (New York University)
  • Andrea F. Bohlman (UNC Chapel Hill)
  • Charles Garrett (University of Michigan)
  • Shirli Gilbert (University of Southampton)
  • Patricia Hall (University of Michigan)
  • Noriko Manabe (Temple University)
  • Chérie Rivers Ndaliko (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Anne Rasmussen (William & Mary)
  • Silvio J. dos Santos (University of Florida)
  • Stephanie Shonekan (University of Missouri)
  • Martha Sprigge (University of California, Santa Barbara)

More Info...

Volume XV, Number 2 (Summer 2021)
Current Issue

Persecution and Resistance Resounded: Trajectories of WWII Musical Memorializations in Germany

Martin Ringsmut, Sidney König

This special issue of Music & Politics presents some of the major outcomes of a three-year-long collaborative research project between the University of Cologne and the Leuphana University in Lüneburg. The researchers set out to explore the roles of music in past and current memorialization and commemoration practices in Germany. While working on separate case studies, similar issues concerning the memorialization of WWII emerged. Through regular discussions on memory theories, a set of concepts arising from modern memory studies has come to shape our understanding of socially shared memories and the role of music in memorialization processes.

Rapping against Old and New Nazis: Bejarano and Microphone Mafia’s Multidirectional Musical Memory Work

Monika E. Schoop

Since 2008, the cross-generational and transcultural group Bejarano and Microphone Mafia, comprising of Auschwitz concentration camp survivor Esther Bejarano, her son Joram, and Kutlu Yurtseven and Rossi Pennino of the hip-hop duo Microphone Mafia, has made use of music to memorialize the Nazi period and the Holocaust in particular. In this article I examine the sounding memories of Bejarano and Microphone Mafia, drawing on participant observation in various performance contexts, semi-structured interviews with the group members, as well as an analysis of selected songs. Building on Michael Rothberg’s theoretical framework of “multidirectional memory,” I inquire into the songs and performances of the group as multidirectional musical memory work. Uncovering the multifaceted memory dynamics unfolding in their music and performances, I analyze how sounding memories of the Nazi period, and more recent memories of racist violence and far right terrorism—including the torching of refugee centers in the 1990s and the killings perpetrated by the neo-Nazi network NSU in the early 2000s, as well as memories of migrants’ experiences—especially those of the so-called Gastarbeiter generation—emerge in dialogue. My interrogation shows that songs and performances do not only serve as media of memory but give rise to new forms of solidarity and are envisaged as agents of change and social justice, which gain importance in the face of persisting racism and mounting calls to “move forward” from the Nazi past.

Maro Drom: Music and Mnemonic Imagination in the Commemoration of German Sinti Victims during WWII

Martin Ringsmut

Based on my ongoing ethnographic fieldwork, this article interrogates the role of cultural performances in the process of memory making between minority and majority groups in Germany. The article focuses especially on musical commemorations of the Sinti minority. It follows the musician Markus Reinhardt and Maro Drom, a minority-led grassroots organization in Cologne, and their efforts to organize three consecutive music festivals in 2018. I argue that the festival serves as transferential space in which family memories, cultural identities and social positionalities are mediated and negotiated. Drawing on memory studies-derived concepts that are firmly based on phenomenological understandings of socially shared memories, the article also pays close attention to aspects of social and spatial orderings as they pertain to memory. Key to this is an exploration of the role of imagination in processes of memory mediation and an examination of three levels of mnemonic imagination (selection, composition, and connection) as they play a pivotal part in not only communicating memories but also identities. The article investigates how the victims' and the survivors' experiences are represented and shared through music and how memories are re-enacted, re-owned and re-interpreted by German Sinti of the second and third generations.

Rapping the Shoah: (Counter-)Narratives and Judaism in German Hip-Hop

Thomas Sebastian Köhn

The Berlin-based rapper Ben Salomo has been disseminating hip-hop tracks that engage with collective memories and family memories of the Holocaust and World War II since 2016. He has also published an autobiography that addresses the subject. These memories are interwoven with various historical, political, and religious discourses with references to the ancient world, Jewish liturgy, and contemporary processes of othering. Focusing on the track “Identität,” which was released in 2016, this article examines how memory narratives are negotiated differently in the track, in the autobiography, and in an interview conducted in 2019. Using a combination of music analysis, narrative analysis, and ethnography, the author elaborates how the track, in comparison to the autobiography and the interview, enables the negotiation of memory-related counter-narratives that not only abandon a victim-centered view but also question and criticize aspects of contemporary institutionalized memory culture. The inquiry shows how hip-hop serves as a medium for combining different musical elements and bringing a future-oriented yet reflective post-Holocaust perspective into a musical memory practice.

Memory is a Weapon: Ton Steine Scherben’s Use of WWII Memory in the Political Upheavals of the 1970s

Sidney König

This paper examines the relationship of 1970s German “Agit-Rock” band Ton Steine Scherben with the memory of WWII. I use this as an entry point to a more general consideration of the role of WWII memory in pre-unification West German society and of the contribution of popular music to an interrogation of the political status of such memory. Throughout their career, the “Scherben” have made continuous implicit or explicit references, in songs, interviews and other media, to the horrors of WWII and their legacy in the German postwar political and cultural landscape. On the basis of archival materials, music analysis of selected songs, and original interviews with band members, I explain why and how the Scherben used the memory of WWII to further their leftist countercultural agenda, and elaborate on the war’s presence (or absence) and relevance in 1970s German society and its implications for the conflicts between war and postwar generations. Narrative analysis will provide insights into the value constructions of the time, identifying the usage of WWII memory as a popular weapon in German political confrontations, and locating the Scherben’s role and impact within these conflicts.