Freie Universität Berlin

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Sean Nye, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Dept. of Cultural Studies

Teutonic Timbres?: History, Masculinity and Travels Abroad

My dissertation explores new intersections between electronic dance music (from disco to techno) and questions of German nationhood in an era of globalization, immigration and shifts in political organization through the European Union. While a hybrid music form with diverse influences from Europa, Africa and the United States, electronic dance music has repeatedly been claimed as a “German” music form that can answer to the Anglo-American rock and pop industry. I explore these tensions between nationhood and globalization in such bands and DJs as Kraftwerk, Sven Väth and Westbam, as well as uncover the history of promotional campaigns of electronic music such as were repeatedly organized by the Goethe Institute. Key questions and histories I am exploring are the following: How have stereotypes of Germans as rational and robotic been utilized, critiqued and/or perpetuated within the promotional history of German electronic dance cultures? How has the traditional rhetoric against popular dance music as a dangerous form of obedience, marching and mass mobilization, which was formulated by the critical theory of the Frankfurt school among others, itself been challenged and/or augmented with the marriage of technology and dance culture? How have electronic dance scenes in Germany dealt with the ethical and political questions regarding the future of ‘German’ art and the demand for responsibility for the past? In what ways has electronic music changed the interaction with and international presentation of urban life in Germany, especially with cities that have renowned histories of electronic music (Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Munich, especially)?