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American Studies

Pop and Politics

München, 07/07/2014

How does popular music articulate political protest? Nine students in the Master’s program on “American History, Culture and Society” at LMU last semester set out to find answers to this question. They explored contexts, styles and genres ranging from the music of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa via Afro-American music and politically motivated hip-hop to the music of protest since the turn of the century and the songs that featured in Barack Obama’s successful election campaigns. These explorations and the implications of what they discovered then served as the basis for a five-part series of radio programs, which will be broadcast on Munich’s educational channel M94.5 beginning on 9 July 2014.

Source: harishmarnad /

The programs were put together by members of the seminar entitled “Guerilla Radio: Pop & Politics,” held in the Summer Semester 2014 under the direction of Dr. Bärbel Harju at LMU’s Institute of American Studies. The seminar was devoted to elucidating the links between pop music and politics in American history from the 1960s up to the present day, and covered every genre from country to hip-hop, from mainstream pop and rock to folk. Representative song-texts and their political import were investigated against the background of the social and cultural conditions of their time. The radio reports were assembled in group sessions, with the aid of a tutor who works as a music presenter for Radio M94.5. Financed by the Lehre@LMU program, the tutor’s task was to acquaint the students with production techniques, help them to formulate the linking texts and familiarize them with the basic elements of radio journalism.

Program schedule:

Searching for Sugar Man and the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa
9 July 2014, 8 – 9pm CET (repeat broadcast on 13 July 2014, 1 – 2 pm)

African-American Music as Rebellion
16 July 2014, 8 – 9 pm CET (20 July 2014, 1 – 2 pm)

The Evolution of Political Hip-Hop
23 July 2014, 8 - 9 p CET (27 July 2014, 1 – 2 pm)

Political Music in the 2000s
30 July 2014, 8 – 9 pm CET (3 August 2014, 1 – 2 pm)

Hip-Hop on the Vote: Election Campaign Music from 2008 and 2012
6 August 2014, 8 – 9 pm CET (10 August 2014, 1 – 2 pm)

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