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:
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- Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau, Esteban Buch, Myriam Chimènes and Georgie Durosoir (ed.), La Grande Guerre des musiciens, Lyon, Symétrie, coll. « Perpetuum mobile », 2009.
- Annette Becker, Voir la Grande Guerre. Un autre récit (1914-2014), Paris, Armand Colin, 2016.
- Annette Becker, Bénédicte Grailles, Anne-Sophie Leterrier and Patrice Marcilloux, Chefs-d’œuvre and circonstances, Dainville, Archives du Pas-de-Calais, 2000.
- John Bush, The Songs That Fought the War: Popular Music and the Home Front, 1939-1945, Lebanon, Brandeis University Press, 2006.
- Myriam Chimènes (ed.), La vie musicale sous Vichy, Bruxelles, Editions Complexe, 2001.
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- Michel Cullin and Primavera Driessen Gruber, Douce France: Musik-Exil in Frankreich 1933-1945 – Musiciens en exil en France 1933-1945, Vienne, Böhlau Verlag, 2008.
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- Danielle Fosler-Lussier, Music in America’s Cold War Diplomacy, Oakland, California: University of California Press, 2015.
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- Hon-Lun Yang, « Power, Politics, and Musical Commemoration: Western Musical Figures in the People’s Republic of China 1949-1964 », Music and Politics, 1/2, 2007.
- Sarah Zalfen and Sven Oliver Müller (ed.), Besatzungsmacht Musik. Zur Musik- und Emotionsgeschichteim Zeitalter der Weltkriege (1914-1949), Bielefeld, Transcript, 2012.