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The sound of difference

Race, class and the politics of 'diversity' in classical music

By Kristina Kolbe

The sound of difference
Hardcover -
  • Price: £85.00
  • ISBN: 9781526165497
  • Publish Date: Jun 2024
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Pre-Order £85.00

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    eBook +
  • Price: £85.00
  • ISBN: 9781526165480
  • Publish Date: Jun 2024
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Pre-Order £85.00

    Delivery Exc. North and South America

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    Book Information

    • Format: Hardcover
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6549-7
    • Pages: 272
    • Price: £85.00
    • Published Date: June 2024
    • Series: Music and Society

    Description

    What happens when the elitist space of 'Western' classical music seeks to diversify itself? And what are the social effects worked through diversity discourses in classical music institutions? The sound of difference addresses these concerns by critically examining how diversity work takes shape in a cultural sector so deeply implicated in hierarchies of class, structures of whiteness, and legacies of imperialism. The book draws from ethnographic and interview data to analyse how diversity discourses become constructed in the organisational and creative processes of music production. From rehearsal and performance practices to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the sector's commitment to change, Kolbe reveals the institutional constraints and precarious labour relations that form around diversity work in classical music and skilfully considers what these processes can tell us about the remaking of class, race, and racism today.

    Reviews

    Based on a unique ethnographic study of a classical music organisation, The sound of difference provides a rare 'bottom-up' account of how inequalities manifest and persist in the arts. Put simply, it is one of the most sophisticated and nuanced critiques of the operationalisation of 'diversity' in the cultural sector that I have ever read.

    Anamik Saha, Professor of Race and Media, University of Leeds



    A brilliant analysis of diversity work in the classical music sector. Drawing on ethnographic and interview data, Kristina Kolbe asks what happens when the elitist space of classical music seeks to diversify itself. Do diversity discourses in classical music reproduce or challenge existing inequalities? How is it that white middle-class domination perseveres despite an increasingly prominent focus on diversity in the classical music sector? This absolutely timely book is a must-read for anybody with an interest in classical music practice.

    Christina Scharff, Reader in Gender, Media and Culture, King's College London

    Contents

    Introduction
    1 Thinking through diversity and its discontents
    2 When diversity enters classical music: Situating the sector as a social scene
    3 From 'white space' to 'diverse space'? How music practitioners reflect on diversity's hopes, tensions, and drawbacks
    4 The commodification of diversity in practices of elitism and race-making
    5 Making diverse musics: Power, inequality, and subjectivity in practices of composition, rehearsal, and performance
    6 How to imagine/stage difference otherwise? (Dis)continuities of Orientalist representations in curatorial praxis
    7 Toward a politics of conviviality? Thinking through musical performances as liminal encounters
    8 'Diversity' in crisis? Reflecting on COVID-19's impact on institutional commitments to change
    Conclusion
    Bibliography
    Index

    Author

    Kristina Kolbe is Assistant Professor in Sociology of Arts and Culture at Erasmus University Rotterdam

    The sound of difference

    By Kristina Kolbe

    Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

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