The Motherland Resurrected: Manifestations of Nationalism in Music Since the End of the ‘Short Twentieth Century’.

POSTPONED – Due to the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, this symposium is rescheduled for 2021. Confirmation of new date and new submission deadline will follow.

Venue: Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge
Date: 15 May 2020
Submission Deadline: 24 March 2020
Keynote speaker: Dr Ilana Webster-Kogen (SOAS University of London)

This symposium invites academics, independent researchers, practitioners and post-graduate students from across the local community to explore and unpick how musical practices in the last thirty years have corresponded to and helped construct national self-identification, considering also how they may have problematised traditional conceptions of national identity.


Nationalism, among other concepts related to one’s identity with regard to ethnicity and the nation-state, is notoriously hard to define, as Benedict Anderson suggested in Imagined Communities (1983). Not long after Anderson’s infamous and thought-provoking publication, there was an upsurge of interest in nationalism in the early 1990s, following the revolutions of 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the outbreak of nationalist wars in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.


It could be suggested that since the end of the Cold War, numerous detailed and thoughtful investigations into nationalism have somewhat exhausted the topic’s scholarly potential. Recent events and socio-political trends across the world, however, have seen new manifestations of nationalism that do not conform to conventional models. This suggests that nationalism is a persistent and dynamic phenomenon that needs continuous (re)investigation, with scholars and the media questioning if it is still on rise, whether the Second Cold War has begun or, in fact, whether the first one ever ended.


Thirty years after the 1989 revolutions, at a time when countries continue to write their controversial histories, we consider that it is the ideal moment to revisit the topic of nationalism and ask questions that take lessons from the past and critically analyse the present. Culture is the mirror of society and as music per se, unlike more verbal and visual art forms, lacks semantic meaning, it reflects its social situation in more subtle ways.

We encourage scholars across music studies to explore the relationship between nationalism and music, examining its potential for political mobilization and the causality between musical evocations of conceived national identity and political action and activism. We invite scholars, including those whose previous work is purely historical, to apply existing knowledge and methodologies to contemporary case studies of nationalism from all over the world. In so doing, this symposium aims to cultivate and nuance our understanding of how present and diverse political conditions and requirements are (re)defining conceptions of nationalism and how these are being mediated and problematised through various and disparate musical-cultural practices.


We invite proposals for individual or co-authored paper presentations and lecture recitals to musicandpolitics.cambridge2020@gmail.com. Please include a short biography of no more 150 words with your submission. The submission deadline is 24 March. Notification of acceptance will be sent by 31 March.


Guidelines for proposal submission:
Individual/co-authored paper presentations (20 minutes + 10 minutes for discussion) or lecture recitals (10 minutes lecture + 10 minutes recital + 10 minutes for discussion):
• Title and abstract of up to 300 words


If you are not interested in presenting but would still like to attend, please notify the organisers, Eirini Diamantouli and Ekaterina Pavlova, at musicandpolitics.cambridge2020@gmail.com.