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Music, Diplomacy, Propaganda: Towards New Definitions

Musique, diplomatie, propagande : Vers de nouvelles définitions

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Published on Tuesday, July 02, 2024

Abstract

What is music diplomacy, what is music propaganda, and what makes it possible to distinguish one from the other – not only from the internal perspective of players involved, but also and primarily from research’s external perspective? Organized as part of an interdisciplinary research project aimed at (re)thinking the distinction between music diplomacy and music propaganda, the purpose of this 2-part participatory workshop is to offer a space for group reflection on these fundamental questions. 

Announcement

Two-Part Participatory Workshop

Online, June 20, 2025 and Université de Montréal, October 16-18, 2025

Argument

What is music diplomacy, what is music propaganda, and what makes it possible to distinguish one from the other – not only from the internal perspective of players involved, but also and primarily from research’s external perspective? As simple as these questions may seem, it is in fact very difficult to provide an unequivocal answer. Scholarly literature on these topics – which has developed considerably in recent years – bears witness to this challenge: use of these two terms varies greatly, underpinned by equally varied definitions (explicit, but more often implicit). The expression “music diplomacy” can thus designate, among other things, musical practices accompanying the work of professional diplomats, a specific type of cultural and/or public diplomacy, or a form of intercultural exchange through music; as for music propaganda, it is generally defined as a kind of subordination of music to political interests, but the ways in which this definition is applied are extremely varied, and in many cases, the boundaries between music diplomacy and music propaganda also remain somewhat blurred.

Organized as part of an interdisciplinary research project aimed at (re)thinking the distinction between music diplomacy and music propaganda (whose bibliography is available here), the purpose of this participatory workshop is to offer a space for group reflection on these fundamental questions. It takes place in two complementary and inextricably linked parts:

  • A half-day online seminar for theoretical and conceptual reflection (June 20, 2025);
  • A three-day in-person gathering to discuss case studies (October 16-18, 2025).

During the seminar that makes up the first part of the workshop, participants will meet to outline the main lines of discussion around a few key theoretical texts, chosen among the participants’ suggestions. In this first stage of the workshop (for which Marie-Hélène Benoit-Otis and her team will give an introductory general presentation of the theme), we’ll be working together to try to better understand the concepts of music diplomacy and music propaganda, without yet applying these reflections to specific case studies. 

This conceptual and theoretical discussion will feed into the second part of the workshop, during which participants will be able to propose a reflection rooted, where appropriate, in one or more case studies (from the Renaissance to the present day), to test the limits of the conceptual framework they have developed. These presentations will be prepared collaboratively. The accepted proposals will be grouped according to the kind of dynamic studied (not simply based on the chosen case studies’ geographical or chronological proximity), and brought together in round tables to help establish dialogue between the three or four participants. Groupings will be determined during the June 20, 2025 online seminar, which will provide an opportunity for initial contact between people in the same round table group. To facilitate discussion, all participants will also be invited to share a brief written abstract of their presentation, prior to the October 2025 gathering.

Proposals for the second part of the workshop may address any of the following questions, or any other question related to the definitions of music diplomacy and/or music propaganda:

  • What is music diplomacy and what forms can it take?
  • What is music propaganda and what forms can it take?
  • What are the boundaries between diplomacy and propaganda in music? (This line of questioning can take the form of a theoretical reflection, a literature review, a study of the factors that can influence the choice of one term or the other in a certain context, an analysis of the consequences and implications of this choice, etc.)
  • How do the concepts of music diplomacy and music propaganda interact with related concepts, such as education or imperialism?
  • How have music diplomacy and/or music propaganda evolved through time?
  • What are the specificities of music diplomacy or propaganda compared to diplomacy or propaganda borne by other forms of cultural expression?
  • How does interdisciplinary work influence the study of music diplomacy and/or music propaganda? How do we approach these notions in musicology, history, sociology, political science, communications, philosophy, etc., and how can we combine different approaches to achieve a more complete analysis?

In addition to the round tables, the October 2025 gathering will include a keynote presented by Danielle Fosler-Lussier, author of numerous essential works on music diplomacy (see below for a few examples).

A collective publication bringing together articles derived from a selection of the contributions to the workshop is planned.

Submission guidelines

Proposals (max. 300 words) for the second part of the workshop, along with a brief abstract (max. 150 words), a short biography (max. 150 words), and, if you wish, a list of up to three (3) reading suggestions for the June 20, 2025 seminar must be submitted electronically, using the online form available at the following URL: https://forms.gle/WpbB3p5hxhx1zDQr5

before October 1, 2024.

The workshop’s languages are French and English.

Coordinator

  • Simone Calvé (Université de Montréal, CRCMP, OICRM)

*For any questions, use the following address: musiquediplomatiepropagande@gmail.com

Organizing Committee

  • Marie-Hélène Benoit-Otis (Université de Montréal, CRCMP, OICRM)
  • Michel Duchesneau (Université de Montréal, OICRM)
  • Marie-Pier Leduc (Université de Montréal, CRCMP, OICRM)

Advisory Committee

  • Marie-Hélène Benoit-Otis (Université de Montréal, CRCMP, OICRM)
  • Vanessa Blais-Tremblay (Université du Québec à Montréal, OICRM)
  • Esteban Buch (École des hautes études en sciences sociales)
  • Michel Duchesneau (Université de Montréal, OICRM)
  • Annegret Fauser (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Anaïs Fléchet (Université de Strasbourg)
  • Jonathan Goldman (Université de Montréal, OICRM)
  • Federico Lazzaro (Université de Fribourg, OICRM)
  • Christopher Moore (Université d’Ottawa, OICRM)
  • Rachel Moore (Cardiff University)
  • Manuela Schwartz (Hochschule Magdeburg-Stendal)
  • Fritz Trümpi (Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien)

Indicative Bibliography

See here for the complete bibliography of the project “Musique, diplomatie et propagande” directed by Marie-Hélène Benoit-Otis.

Ahrendt, Rebekah Susannah, Mark Ferraguto, and Damien Mahiet (ed.), Music and Diplomacy from the Early Modern Era to the Present, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Buch, Esteban, Igor Contreras Zubillaga, and Manuel Deniz Silva, “Introduction”, in Esteban Buch, Igor Contreras Zubillaga and Manuel Deniz Silva (ed.), Composing for the State: Music in Twentieth-Century Dictatorships, London, Routledge, 2016, pp. 1–4.

Carniel, Jess, “Nation Branding, Cultural Relations and Cultural Diplomacy at Eurovision: Between Australia and Europe”, in Julie Kalman, Ben Wellings, and Keshia Jacotine (ed.), Eurovisions: Identity and the International Politics of the Eurovision Song Contest since 1956, Singapore, Springer Nature, 2019, pp. 151–73.

—, “Towards a Theory of Participatory Diplomacy via the Eurovision Song Contest”, Media, Culture & Society, 2024, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/01634437231224080.

Duncan, Stewart, “‘An Excellent Piece of Propaganda’: The British Council’s Use of Choirs as Cultural Diplomacy in the 1930s”, The Musical Quarterly 105/1–2, 2022, pp. 105–50.

Dunkel, Mario, and Sina A. Nitzsche (ed.), Popular Music and Public Diplomacy: Transnational and Transdisciplinary Perspectives, Bielefeld, Transcript, 2018.

Everist, Mark, “Music, Theatre, and Diplomacy: The Paris Opéra during the Second Empire”, Diplomatica 3/2, 2021, pp. 278–301.

Fauser, Annegret, “World War II: Music as Propaganda”, in Sarah Mahler Kraaz (ed.), Music and War in the United States, New York, Routledge, 2018, pp. 142–61.

Fléchet, Anaïs, Martin Guerpin, Philippe Gumplowicz, and Barbara L. Kelly (ed.), Music and Postwar Transitions in the 19th and 20th Centuries, New York, Berghahn Books, 2023.

Fosler-Lussier, Danielle, “Music Pushed, Music Pulled: Cultural Diplomacy, Globalization, and Imperialism”, Diplomatic History 36/1, 2012, pp. 53–64.

—, Music in America’s Cold War Diplomacy, Oakland, University of California Press, 2015.

Fulcher, Jane F., “The Concert as Political Propaganda in France and the Control of ‘Performative Context’”, The Musical Quarterly 82/1, 1998, pp. 41–67.

Geiger, Friedrich, “Conducting the Masses: State Propaganda and Censorship”, in Klaus Nathaus, and Martin Rempe (ed.), Musicking in Twentieth-Century Europe: A Handbook, Berlin, De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2021, pp. 303–23.

Gienow-Hecht, Jessica, Sound Diplomacy: Music and Emotions in Transatlantic Relations, 1850–1920, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2009.

—, and Mark C. Donfried (ed.), Searching for a Cultural Diplomacy, New York, Berghahn Books, 2010.

Goldman, Jonathan, and Jeremy Strachan, “Indonesian Cultural Diplomacy and the First International Gamelan Festival and Symposium at Expo 86”, American Music 38/4, 2020, pp. 428–53.

Hebert, David G., and Jonathan McCollum (ed.), Ethnomusicology and Cultural Diplomacy, Lanham, Lexington Books, 2022.

Lopes da Cunha, Maria M. Rijo, Jonathan Shannon, Søren Møller Sørensen, and Virginia Danielson (ed.), Music and Cultural Diplomacy in the Middle East: Geopolitical Re-Configurations for the 21st Century, Cham, Palgrave Macmillan, 2024.

Marès, Antoine, and Anaïs Fléchet (ed.), Musique et relations internationales [I and II], special issues of Relations internationales 155 and 156, 2013.

Moore, Rachel, Performing Propaganda: Musical Life and Culture in Paris during the First World War, Woodbridge, The Boydell Press, 2018.

Orzech, Rachel, Claiming Wagner for France: Music and Politics in the Parisian Press, 1933–1944, Rochester, University of Rochester Press, 2022.

Pestel, Friedemann, “Performing for the Nation: Perspectives on Musical Diplomacy”, in Klaus Nathaus, and Martin Rempe (ed.), Musicking in Twentieth-Century Europe: A Handbook, Berlin, De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2021, pp. 325–46.

Ramel, Frédéric, and Cécile Prévost-Thomas (ed.), International Relations, Music and Diplomacy: Sounds and Voices on the International Stage, Cham, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Sala, Massimiliano (ed.), Music and Propaganda in the Short Twentieth Century, Turnhout, Brepols, 2014.

Schwartz, Manuela, “La musique, outil majeur de la propagande culturelle des nazis”, in Myriam Chimènes (ed.), La vie musicale sous Vichy, Bruxelles, Éditions Complexe, 2001, pp. 89–105.

—, “Musique et diplomatie: Wilhelm Kempff et la propagande culturelle des pianistes allemands”, in Myriam Chimènes, and Yannick Simon (ed.), La musique à Paris sous l’Occupation, Paris, Fayard, 2013, pp. 161–76.

Trümpi, Fritz, The Political Orchestra: The Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics during the Third Reich, Kenneth Kronenberg, Chicago, The University of Chicago, 2016.

Velasco-Pufleau, Luis, “Reflections on Music and Propaganda”, Contemporary Aesthetics 12, 2014, http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.7523862.0012.007.

Places

  • Faculté de musique, Université de Montréal, 200 rue Vincent d'Indy
    Montreal, Canada

Date(s)

  • Tuesday, October 01, 2024

Keywords

  • music, musicology, culture, diplomacy, propaganda, nation branding, politics

Contact(s)

  • Simone Calvé
    courriel : musiquediplomatiepropagande [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Marie-Pier Leduc
    courriel : mp1leduc [at] gmail [dot] com

License

CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Music, Diplomacy, Propaganda: Towards New Definitions », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, July 02, 2024, https://doi.org/10.58079/11xey

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