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Title: Iran's troubled tunes : music as politics in the Islamic Republic
Author: Seyedsayamdost, Nahid
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Abstract:
In this thesis, I argue that in the absence of a free public sphere in Iran over the past three decades, music has provided an important political space where cultural producers and their audiences engage in dialogues over societal, ideational and political values. Both through the substance of their discourses and their very participation in this field, they contest the state's ideological power. Each chapter studies in greater depth a specific time period so that, taken together, my thesis offers a chronological overview of music in the Islamic Republic. Each chapter also focuses on a specific genre and the work of one musician situated within that genre. I write about the constraints that these artists experience and explore their strategies for coping within a repressive environment. Maintaining a sense of 'authenticity' is important to all of the artists discussed; this became especially challenging following the 2009 presidential elections, which caused the musicians in question to take up varying positions. On a more minor parallel track, I also trace the state's efforts to engage in this field through its own productions, highlighting the ways in which music is an expressive reflection of the evolution of the Islamic Republic. After initially banning all music following the 1979 revolution, the state eventually bowed to the need for music but has attempted to stifle any that does not serve the regime's interest. This has led to a popular but s hallow official musical culture existing alongside a largely impotent but lively subculture. In the process of its material decisions, the state has revealed that it is bound neither by Islamic nor by republican ideals. Following an introductory chapter, I examine the work of Iran's foremost classical vocalist Mohammad Reza Shajarian and his use of classical Persian poetry and music to express a form of critique that has allowed for wide participation by diverse audiences. In the third chapter, I describe the state's creation of sanctioned pop music. I study more closely the work of pop star Alireza Assal- and his strategy of creating ambiguity in order to safeguard his sense of authentici ty. In the fourth chapter, I trace the birth of an alternative music sphere in Khatami-era Iran by focusing on the creations of the fus ion scene's enfant terrible, Mohsen Namjoo. In the final chapter, I examine the expansion of this alternative space thanks to new communication technologies, and the emergence of a new generation of hip-hop artists through a discussion of the works of Sorush Lashkari, aka Hichkas.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.606550  DOI: Not available
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