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Mondialisation, musiques et danses : circulations, mutations, pouvoirs – MUSMOND

Submission summary

This project aims at examining the processes of mobility, transformation, and power relations at stake in music and dance practices in the context of globalization. Recent studies of music and dance practices tend to center on the phenomenon of globalization. The present project extends the scope of these studies by testing such conceptual tools as métissage, transnational networks, acculturation, and globalization. We adopt a comparative as opposed to a localized approach, seeking to examine the processes and the underlying logic of mobility, transformation, and power relations common to our various fieldwork. This project will identify the relationships between different types of individuals—musicians, agents, publics—and the functional ties between these individuals and processes of cultural change. We will simultaneously highlight the factors, including values and identities that shape the influence of these key individuals. Our project will therefore focus not only on the products and producers in the musical and dance fields, but also on the links between the different actors, on the social roles that they enact in their interactions with other actors, and on the different levels at which the actors operate. A central feature of the study will be an analysis of esthetic judgments. This will enable us to assess the political and economic orientations at stake in the formation and transformation of musical categorizations. To this end, we will examine the principles in which publics' and musicians' tastes are grounded; tensions and divergences in terms of taste and attitude formation; and the uses of legitimization processes and tactics. This project opens the possibility of re-thinking certain oppositions concerning the social functions of music and dance: rural versus urban, center versus periphery, tradition versus métissage, local or national versus global. Our multidimensional, multi-site, comparative analysis will explore how the uses of music and dance operate between these social spaces, revealing the dialectical relationship between them. We will seek to identify common processes along three axes: 1. Boundary crossings, itineraries, networks, and the media Our project extends the cataloguing of musical and dance practices. We will analyze the process by which cultural expressions derive from certain roots, become uprooted, and grow new roots in other contexts, becoming 'indigenized', and thus re-territorialized. We have identified mobility as a key feature of the contemporary cultural landscape, including geographical mobility at several levels - local, regional, and national - and social mobility, referring to the passage from one social milieu to another, but also from one cultural group to another. 2. Institutionalization, categorization, and changes of status Our fieldwork will contribute to an understanding of the process of vertical and horizontal concentration that operates in the context of globalization. This process is envisioned as constituting a kind of compromise between the intentions of the producers, the artists, and the sometimes-divergent appreciation of the public. Our focus will be on revealing the balance between production and reception of popular music, on which its public legitimization, evolution, diffusion, and success ultimately depend. Similarly, the team is committed to critical reflection on the ways in which categories of cultural expression are used in different settings—institutional, artistic, or academic—in order to define music and dance. In particular, we are interested in how these categories result in taxonomic debates: 'popular,' 'mass,' 'high-brow,' 'traditional,' 'ethnic,' folkloric,' 'black,' 'white,' 'métisse,' 'sacred,' 'profane,' 'dance music,' constitute classifications whose instrumentalization and social, political, and economic impact merit analysis. 3. World music and world dance: Testing paradigms of métissage World music and world dance are currently perceived as veritable cultural categories, as symbols of sharing and enrichment. In theory, they transcend all lesser categories, immune to definition as 'high-brow' music or dance or as 'legitimate culture.' The musical métissage paradigm underlying world music obscures the discordances, mechanisms of domination within popular music categories, the maintenance of various forms of discrimination, power relations, and the sanctioning of particular tastes and attitudes. The valorization of the process of métissage is indeed often accompanied by the legitimization of difference. The comparatist dimension will be enhanced through the development of a methodological axis of research common to our various fieldwork. We will aim at the analytical exploration of both external constraints and the ability to act innovatively among local individual and groups.

Project coordination

Sara LE MENESTREL (Autre établissement d’enseignement supérieur)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


Help of the ANR 116,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 48 Months

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