Audible Empire

Music, Global Politics, Critique

Audible Empire

Refiguring American Music

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Book Pages: 432 Illustrations: 21 illustrations Published: January 2016

Cultural Studies, Music > Ethnomusicology, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Audible Empire rethinks the processes and mechanisms of empire and shows how musical practice has been crucial to its spread around the globe. Music is a means of comprehending empire as an audible formation, and the contributors highlight how it has been circulated, consumed, and understood through imperial logics. These fifteen interdisciplinary essays cover large swaths of genre, time, politics, and geography, and include topics such as the affective relationship between jazz and cigarettes in interwar China; the sonic landscape of the U.S.– Mexico border; the critiques of post-9/11 U.S. empire by desi rappers; and the role of tonality in the colonization of Africa. Whether focusing on Argentine tango, theorizing anticolonialist sound, or examining the music industry of postapartheid South Africa, the contributors show how the audible has been a central component in the creation of imperialist notions of reason, modernity, and culture. In doing so, they allow us to hear how empire is both made and challenged.

Contributors: Kofi Agawu, Philip V. Bohlman. Michael Denning, Brent Hayes Edwards, Nan Enstad, Andrew Jones, Josh Kun, Morgan Luker, Jairo Moreno, Tejumola Olaniyan, Marc Perry, Ronald Radano, Nitasha Sharma, Micol Seigel, Gavin Steingo, Penny Von Eschen, Amanda Weidman.


"'Empire,' for most of these authors, is not restrained to political empires. Instead, it entails a broad understanding of declining national sovereignty, modern capitalism, and multinational enterprises, all reflected by and in sound. That gaze alone makes this a dynamic and interesting book for historians to consult." — Jessica Gienow-Hecht, Canadian Journal of History

"Audible Empire is a project admirably conceived and executed, consistent in its compelling, well-written, and timely scholarship." — Ruth E. Rosenberg, Notes

"Audible Empire is a topical book that presents in-depth case studies which, when read alongside each other, allow for comprehensive explanations on the role of music in the context of empire." — Christin Hoene, Social History

"Audible Empire . . . offers a complex, far-reaching, and sophisticated set of perspectives for considering various constructions of empire and a wide range of sonic acts that have been and continue to be interconnected." — Sindhumathi Revuluri, Music and Letters

"Are these varied works of scholarship meant to critique global politics, music, listening, and empire? Or are they intended to interrogate how the idea of critique operates in the context of those forces? Much of the power of this anthology lies in its refusal to resolve that question, and in fact to emphasize the many ambiguities that it brings to the surface." — Jonathan Schloss, Journal of Popular Music Studies

"The central drama of Audible Empire might be described as the divorce between the title words: an inevitably messy split followed later by the establishment of amicable relations. This very disconnection may prove the book’s signal contribution to musicology, ethnomusicology, sound studies, and postcolonial criticism at large. It points beyond a scholarly paradigm in which human perceptions are forever held in empire’s thrall: towards the not-always sensible domains across which empires unfold." — Gavin Williams, Twentieth-Century Music

"A welcome publication, adding the subjectivity and fluidity of music, sound, and listening to an already complex network of scholarly explorations about processes of empire formation. . . . This volume brings to the foreground more than an array of perspectives on the audible aspects of empire formation; it highlights the many tensions that are involved in writing history and thinking historically, about empires and about music making in general." — Cristina Magaldi, Journal of the Society for American Music

"Audible Empire is an important, substantive, and significant volume containing essays that display a theoretical sophistication about an important range of musical, social, and political issues. In addressing the ways in which the production, distribution, and consumption of public music can illuminate the history of empire and other transnational practices, structures, and institutions, Audible Empire introduces new ways of thinking about music as a social force." — George Lipsitz, coauthor of The Fierce Urgency of Now: Improvisation, Rights, and the Ethics of Co-Creation

"This significant volume does major intellectual and pedagogical work, helping to clarify just what Fanon meant by 'epistemological violence' and Foucault by the 'invisible but known' character of what has been left out of music scholarship. Containing terrifically original pieces of deep scholarship, Audible Empire promotes searching and expansive thinking that will advance critical musicology."
— Steven Feld, author of Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra: Five Musical Years in Ghana


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ronald Radano is Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the author of Lying up a Nation: Race and Black Music
Tejumola Olaniyan is Louise Durham Mead Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the author of Arrest the Music! Fela and His Rebel Art and Politics.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix

Introduction. Hearing Empire—Imperial Listening / Ronald Radano and Tejumola Olaniyan  1

Part I. Technologies of Circulation

1. Decolonizing the Ear: The Transcolonial Reverberations of Vernacular Phonograph Music / Michael Denning  25

2. Smoking Hot: Cigarettes, Jazz, and the Production of Global Imaginaries in Interwar Shanghai / Nan Enstad  45

3. Circuit Listening: Grace Chang and the Dawn of the Chinese 1960s / Andrew F. Jones  66

Part II. Audible Displacements

4. The Aesthetics of Allá: Listening Like a Sonidero / Josh Kun  95

5. Sound Legacy: Elsie Houston / Micol Seigel  116

6. Imperial Aurality: Jazz, the Archive, and U.S. Empire / Jairo Moreno  135

7. Where They Came From: Reracializing Music in the Empire of Silence / Philip V. Bohlman  161

Part III. Cultural Policies and Politics in the Sound Market

8. Di Eagle and di Bear: Who Gets to Tell the Story of the Cold War? / Penny Von Eschen  187

9. Currents of Revolutionary Confluence: A View from Cuba's Hip Hop Festival / Marc Perry  209

10. Tango as Intangible Cultural Heritage: Development, Diversity, and the Values of Music in Buenos Aires / Morgan James Luker  225

11. Musical Economies of the Elusive Metropolis / Gavin Steingo  246

Part IV. Anticolonialism

12. The Sound of Anticolonialism / Brent Hayes Edwards  269

13. Rap, Race, Revolution: Post-9/11 Brown and a Hip Hop Critique of Empire / Nitasha Sharma  292

14. Echo and Anthem: Representing Sound, Music, and Difference in Two Colonial Modern Novels / Amanda Weidman  314

15. Tonality as a Colonizing Force in Africa / Kofi Agawu  334

Discography  357

Bibliography  361

Contributors  391

Index  397
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6012-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5986-9
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