Music and the Nation III: ‘Music and Postwar Transitions (19th-21st Centuries)’

Université de Montréal
Université de Montréal, Université Paris-Saclay (Université d’Évry-Val d’Essonne, Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines), Royal Northern College of Music, Institut de Recherche en Musicologie
18.10.2018 - 20.10.2018
Marie-Hélène Benoit-Otis

The end of a war does not necessarily coincide with the signing of a peace treaty. This premise underlies the notion of the postwar transition, developed by historians over the past two decades. Contrary to traditional diplomatic history, research on postwar transition periods considers the restoration of peace as a dynamic and complex process involving different simultaneous temporalities. Traces of conflict continue to affect societies long after the negotiation of peace. These traces are explored from four angles: 1) the reopening of borders and the return of soldiers, prisoners, and exiles; 2) the reinterpretation of the image of the enemy; 3) memory of the conflicts; 4) ‘cultural demobilisation’. The latter concept provides an opportunity to explore the various paces within postwar transitions: the alleviation of physical and symbolic violence, the momentum produced by pacifist ideals, the rehabilitation of the enemy as well as mourning and grieving processes.

Although the role of art has been explored in recent work on the topic, music has yet to receive any attention. However, the transition from war to peace can be observed in the reconstruction of musical milieus and in musical production. Musical creation, practices, and sociability, the establishment of new repertories, and the resumption of symbolic works can facilitate—or delay—the process of cultural demobilization. The “Music and Postwar Transitions” conference presents an exceptional opportunity to fill this historiographical lacuna.

Transferring the set of questions examined in studies of postwar transitions to musicology opens a new area of inquiry, situated at the intersection of four fields recently explored by historians and musicologists: the relationships between music and war cultures; the monumentality of music and its commemorative dimension; issues of migration and exile; and the connections between music, cultural diplomacy, and propaganda. Much of the research on postwar transitions has focused on the two World Wars, because these conflicts entailed profound transformations on several continents. While the importance of these wars on music is undeniable and certainly merits further exploration, new studies exploring the American Civil War, the Vietnam War, or conflicts such as the Cold War are encouraged, as they promise to enrich our understanding of change and continuity in politics, the arts and culture during these historical periods.

Papers can examine any postwar transition period, from armed conflicts to cold wars, civil or international in dimension, as well as any genre of music (art music, popular music, folk, etc.). Research addressing specific musical works is particularly encouraged. Proposals can focus on one or more of the following themes:

Music and reconstruction: Restructuring the musical world in the aftermath of war
- issues concerning the reopening, transformation, or creation of concert and musical education institutions after a conflict
- the role of post-war transition periods in the explosion of avant-garde movements
- the repeal of censorship that restricted the programming of particular composers or musical genres associated with the enemy
- the reintegration and perception of former enemies within the musical milieu

Music, war culture, and national imaginaries: From musical demobilisation to the persistence of war culture
- the representation of former enemies in music: persistence and reconfiguration of stereotypes
- purges in musical circles following civil war or armed international conflict
- traces of war culture in writings on music
- the role of war culture in the creation of new musical institutions (concert societies, orchestras, journals)

Music and memories of war: music, mourning, commemorations and consolation
- programming choices and the role of music in commemorations of war victims or in celebrations of war victories
- evocations of war and grief in musical productions (e.g. the song Le déserteur during the Algerian War and its fate in France)
- war trauma and the rejection of festive musical practices and genres (e.g., the shock produced by the reappearance of balls after 1945)
- war trauma and aesthetic development: musical works and their relationship to the realities of war
- war trauma, music, and emotions: music as post-traumatic therapy or as an instrument to regulate emotions in soldiers and civilian populations

Music, cultural diplomacy, and propaganda: The utilisation of music in peacemaking and in rehabilitating the image of former adversaries
- the reestablishment of international networks of musicians
- the emergence of international initiatives and new institutions using music to promote peace
- the emergence or redeployment of programmes destined to promote and improve the image of a nation abroad
- the connections between musical diplomacy and war propaganda (the redeployment of techniques and objectives culled from propaganda during war time in programmes of musical diplomacy to promote peace)

Abstracts (maximum 300 words), along with an abridged version (maximum 150 words) and biography of the author (maximum 150 words) should be sent electronically by November 24, 2017, using the following online submission form:

Abstracts and presentations can be in French or in English.


Organizing committee
Marie-Hélène Benoit-Otis (Université de Montréal, OICRM)
Gilles Demonet (Université Paris-Sorbonne, IReMus)
Michel Duchesneau (Université de Montréal, OICRM)
Anaïs Fléchet (Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Institut Universitaire de France)
Martin Guerpin (Université d’Evry Val d’Essonne)
Philippe Gumplowicz (Université d’Évry-Val d’Essonne, SLAM)
Barbara Kelly (Royal Northern College of Music, Keele University)
Jean-Claude Yon (Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines)

Programme committee
Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau (EHESS)
Annette Becker (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense)
Esteban Buch (EHESS)
James Deaville (Carleton University)
Nicolas Donin (CNRS, Ircam)
Annegret Fauser (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Laurent Feneyrou (CNRS, Ircam)
Danielle Fosler-Lussier (Ohio State University)
Jessica Gienow-Hecht (Freie Universität Berlin)
Michael J. Kramer (Northwestern University)
Antoine Marès (Université Panthéon-Sorbonne)
Christopher Moore (Université d’Ottawa)
Pascal Ory (Université Panthéon-Sorbonne)
Manuela Schwartz (Hochschule Magdeburg-Stendal)

Music and the Nation III: ‘Music and Postwar Transitions (19th-21st Centuries)’, 18.10.2018 – 20.10.2018 Montréal, in: H-Soz-Kult, 25.09.2017, <>.
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