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Research Round Table – 24.01.2020

Plakat Research Round Table; Foto: privat

Vortrag Kira Dralle (University of California Santa Cruz) am 24. Jänner 2020, 13.00 Uhr, Brandhofgasse 21, Ensembleraum 2.06

erstellt am:

„And Four Unnamed Black Musicians: On the Memorialization of Black Jazz Musicians in the Third Reich”

On my quest to locate and ethically memorialize the lives of black jazz
musicians who had performed in Nazi-occupied Europe, I find myself
with a plethora of questions surrounding the photograph of Dietrich
Schulz-Köhn, Django Reinhardt, four unnamed black musicians, and
Henri Battut, taken in late 1942 outside the Place Pigalle in Paris.


This project is situated in between the knowledge that swing music
was easily appropriated by authoritarian propaganda, yet also that
jazz has been theorized as, and performed as, a symbol of freedom
and a tool of both active and passive resistance. At the crux of these
issues lies the way in which both the nation state and scholarship itself
actively erase these musicians from social consciousness. What
kinds of ethical scholarship can be done when we are left without
primary source material? What are the historical conditions that prevented,
and continue to actively prevent rigorous scholarship on
these issues? How might we productively consider archival absence,
traces, myths, lies, and legends? Is there use value in the myth? How
might we see beyond the narratives being written, in order to understand
the lived lives of these musicians who manipulated and subverted
racialized and gendered fantasies for survival? How might we
qualify rigorous scholarship without verifiable fact? While the aim of
this project is to tangibly locate and memorialize the lives taken, lost,
or miswritten, it becomes imperative to critically contemplate silence
and invisibility, to take seriously the agential voices of our historical
interlocutors, and to refuse to be separate from the wealth of knowledge
available to us in the unknown and the unknowable.


Kira Dralle is currently a PhD Candidate in Cultural Musicology at the
University of California Santa Cruz, where she teaches in the departments of
Music, History of Art and Visual Culture, and Feminist Studies. Her dissertation
project examines the lives of African American and Afro-Austrian dance band
musicians in Nazi-occupied Europe. More broadly, Dralle’s work highlights
the racial and gendered violence of archival and canonical absence in 20th
century music and its institutions. Recent publications include “Generalized
Trauma and the Responsibilities of the Artistic Monument” (Ethnomusicology
Review
 at UCLA, 2016) and “Can New Music Actually Do Social Activism?”
(San Francisco Center for New Music, 2017).