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Project description

This project explores the ways in which music has been used in the post-Cold war period in the memorialization of anti-Nazi and antifascist resistance during WWII in the two European countries of Slovenia and Germany. Addressing a variety of contemporary musical genres and initiatives, the project foregrounds music as a distinctive medium for recalling, reinterpreting and reviving the past, with specific reference to the politics of memory of WWII. Music is an important “technology of the self” (DeNora 1999) through which identities and memories are constructed. However, its role in memory making has only recently received scholarly attention in musicology and memory studies, and remains a largely uncharted territory for critical analysis. This project attempts to fill this gap and to highlight that music provides unique opportunities for the exploration of memory practices in all their complexities – through the interface between collective remembrance, commemorative rituals, historiographic representations, and creative expression and performance. 

The project addresses the interplay of national and transnational memoryscapes, with a view to promoting shared pan-European perspectives. It contributes importantly to current debates on the traumatic memory of WWII in Europe by considering memory as a mediator between narrated past, lived present and imaged futures. Special attention is devoted to the novel musical resources and collective sensibilities mobilized in the process, and to how sounding the memories of war and resistance offers a critical arena to address current social issues in Germany, in Slovenia, and in Europe at large. In this light, the project lays special emphasis on a comparison between societies that had different experiences during WWII, and have undergone dissimilar discourses of public memory since 1989. In both Slovenia and Germany, the understandings and interpretations of historic antifascist resistance have been substantially reconfigured in the context of post-socialism and post-Cold-War nation building. The project sets out to investigate these discursive shifts and the continuing significance of memorializing practices by focusing particularly on grassroots music making in the two countries and considering a multiplicity of music genres (choral music, singer-songwriters, rock, hip-hop) and sociocultural milieus.


Project team

University of Cologne

Federico Spinetti

Monika Schoop

Martin Ringsmut

Sidney König


Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana

Dr. Ana Hofman

Dr. Jovana Mihajlović Trbovc

Dr. Martin Pogačar


Funding: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Duration: 05/2017-04/2019