Music and Women’s Liberation

26 Sep

This evening, as I was bopping along to my recent discovery Veronica Falls (no idea if they are feminist) with my daughter while cooking dinner, I remembered an announcement that had arrived in my university inbox a while ago and thought it might be nice to share the occasional feminism-related event with my readers.

I have always been interested in the link between music and activism. It just seems that music creates various emotions in most people, and it is frequently used in media/popular culture portrayals of demonstrations/uprisings, as well as to get young people interested in political activism in the first place through campaigns such as Love Music Hate Racism. At the end of the first year of my A-Levels everyone who was doing history had to choose a coursework topic for year 13, regardless of whether or not they were actually going to take history then. I had a nervous breakdown every time I so much as thought of my history teacher, so it was obvious to me that I would not carry on, but the pretend-topic I came up with to fill the last four weeks of term – the role music played in bringing about the end of the German Democratic Republic in 1989 – was almost enough to make me reconsider the importance of my mental health. Almost, not quite though. I don’t know if music played any kind of role, or if anyone has researched this, but it turned out that someone I knew during my undergraduate degree did his PhD thesis on the role of television during reunification, so popular culture provides fertile ground for researching trends in society. If you’re interested in this kind of thing (popular culture/music and politics), definitely check out the work of UK academic John Street, he is amazing.

Aaaanyway, so much about ‘PhD topics infinitely more relevant to real life than mine’. What I actually meant to say is the Women’s Liberation Music Archive is touring the UK, showcasing “rare ephemera and artefacts such as posters, songbooks, t-shirts, instruments and fliers” as well as films, interactive installations, photos, music, and ten oral histories. The exhibition has already been to Cardiff, and will be in Manchester, Glasgow and London for a couple of weeks each between 1 October and 13 January. The website gives a great overview of bands, so it’s worth having a look.


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