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SCRIPTS Working Paper No. 39 by Jessica Gienow-Hecht and Steffen Just

Music and Human Rights Since World War II

News from Apr 16, 2024

This paper explores the intersections of music and human rights since World War II on a global level. It presents ideas and suggests possible pathways to study the articulation of human rights politics through sound and musical practices. While historians have investigated human rights through various perspectives pertaining to aspects of law, society, and cultural politics, the manifestation and expression of human rights issues in sound aesthetics are still waiting to be discovered. Musicologists and sound researchers, on the other hand, have closely studied the symbolic and affective use of music and sound by social movements, cultural institutions, liberal governments, authoritarian regimes, and individual activists, but the theme of human rights has only surfaced explicitly in a handful of publications. This paper, therefore, suggests that an interdisciplinary analysis, which combines theories and methods from historiography, music, and sound scholarship, makes it possible to address global human rights history in novel ways.

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