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Sound and Mass Politics in Europe, 1900-1945: A Symposium
June 9 at 8:00 am – June 10 at 5:00 pm Grenada
From the late nineteenth century onwards, the ‘masses’ erupted onto the European political stage and in the turbulent decades before and after the First World War, political movements of different stripes sought to harness, channel or restrict their perceived power. While the propagandizing and political theatre of fascism is perhaps the most well-known for its use of sound, the use of sonic techniques stretched across the political spectrum, and was not limited to the rhetoric of political leaders. From choreographed rallies to the silence of commemoration, from heckling at meetings to the singing of songs, audiences, crowds and demonstrators were also active participants and contributors to the soundscapes of politics. In this way, sound was integral to the embodied experience – both individual and collective – of mass politics. This experience is impossible to disentangle from the concurrent technological revolution in mass political communication in the form of radio and amplified sound. This reached its logical apogee in the Europe of ‘extremes’ in the form of the armored ‘speaker-lorries’ used to weaponize propaganda during the Spanish Civil War.
This one-and-a-half-day symposium will be an informal forum to discuss on-going research and common themes and approaches with the aim of developing transnational comparisons and sharing methodological concerns that can contribute to rethinking the role of sound in politics in modern Europe.
University of Grenada
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