In the “Appropriation in European Music” panel we examine the bounds of music as a social and cultural apparatus for both subverting and supporting existing systems of influence in a globalised Europe.
Often referred to as a “universal language”, music has the capacity to transcend national, cultural, racial, even generational borders. It can unite people across backgrounds, and has the power to overcome social division, but it also has a history. When delineated along cultural and geographical lines, many of the popular styles and genres of music now being performed by some of the biggest pop acts in the world can be traced back to the “marginalized” communities that developed them.
Blues, jazz, hip-hop, and rap; Vogue, techno, house and reggaeton, all have roots in black and queer experience. As these cultural innovations and signifiers invented by an oppressed “minority” now serve the benefit of a dominant few, the questions then becomes, at what point does the inevitable exchange of ideas and stylistic markers in music become a question of appropriation? And how should the impact of structural inequality in terms of who benefits from these innovations be addressed?