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Join us for the inaugural lecture from Professor Elaine Kelly.

Constructs of international solidarity featured prominently in the relationships that Soviet Bloc states such as the German Democratic Republic forged with newly independent postcolonial states in the latter half of the twentieth century. Solidarity ideals underpinned visions of a “second” and “third” world alliance, and drove the collaborative ethos of socialist assistance that was offered to postcolonial countries as an alternative to Western development aid. These ideals also, however, perpetuated older frameworks of European hegemony that sat incongruously with the realities of the GDR’s interactions with its postcolonial partners. This lecture takes as its starting point the question of what we can learn about the rhetoric and practices of East German solidarity politics by focusing on music. It will explore the music that was performed in the name of solidarity by East Germans and by international students and workers residing in the GDR, the roles that music played in socialist assistance packages to countries such as Cambodia, and the ambitions of socialist worldmaking that were facilitated by the circulation of music and performers. In doing so, it will demonstrate how music variously legitimized, challenged, and exposed the limitations of socialist solidarity.

About Professor Elaine Kelly

Elaine Kelly holds a Personal Chair of Music and Politics at the University of Edinburgh. She has published extensively on intersections between music, politics, culture, and intellectual history in the German Democratic Republic and post-reunification Germany, and is currently writing a monograph—funded by a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship—which explores musical relations between the GDR and the postcolonial world.

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The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception for those attending in person.


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Event details

3 Apr '24
Musical Relations between the German Democratic Republic and the Postcolonial World.
Edinburgh College of Art Main Building, West Court, 74 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, EH3 9DF
Professor Elaine Kelly