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Political Music

Legitimization and Contestation


Edited By Tomasz Bichta and Anna Szwed-Walczak

In the 12 chapters of this book the authors argue for the universal presence of music in public space and social relations. The examples of American, British, Hungarian, Polish and Russian music serve to elucidate two functions of political music, that of legitimizing and contesting political power. Both satirical songs with their ironic commentary on specific events and people as well as protest songs undermining the system corroborate the universal character of the legitimizing and delegitimizing function of music. The book is addressed to readers interested in countercultural movements and politically engaged music, especially to students of political studies, sociology and cultural studies.

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The Discreet Charm of Revolution: The Political Agenda of the Band Algiers


Kamil Aksiuto1

Abstract: The chapter is devoted to a political project that the band Algiers is involved in. The issue of racism, which black Americans continue to fall victim to, recurs in many songs of the band, constituting, however, part of the band’s broader political vision inspired by revolutionary socialism. Some tensions are present in this vision, as regards an attempt to identify the potential subject of the revolution and the role of violence in the fight for radical social change.

Key words: Algiers, Critical Race Theory, Frantz Fanon, political violence, racism, revolution

Now it so happens that when the colonized hear a speech on Western culture they draw their machetes or at least check to see they are close to hand.

Frantz Fanon

If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution.

attributed to Emma Goldman

What is considered to be political music frequently, or even typically, has political character only incidentally or periodically. An artist or a band may create a piece that is a response to some event, an expression of protest (or, more rarely, of approval), a call to action in some political matter (or a matter that can easily be seen as political in the contemporary world). The political content of such artistic intervention is usually located in the lyrics. It may take the form of alluding to or “citing” in one’s own piece statements by important historical figures or fragments of...

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