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Research Projects of the University of Cologne‘s Faculty of Arts and Humanities 2017/2018

Sounding Memories

Image: Monika E. Schoop

Nazi Persecution and Anti-Nazi Resistance in the Music of Contemporary Germany

Prof. Dr. Federico Spinetti und Dr. Monika E. Schoop | Institute for Musicology, Department of Ethnomusicology

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

The period of National Socialism is a crucial aspect of memory culture in Germany today. This is also reflected in music. The Edelweißpiraten Festival, the Microphone Mafia hip-hop duo, the Auschwitz-survivor Esther Bejerano and the Reinhardt family are only some of the numerous musicians, projects and initiatives that demonstrate how the memorialization of both the victims and the opponents of Nazism is more important than ever in times of a global political shift to the right. In both musicology and memory studies, however, the topic remains largely unexplored. With a view to filling this gap, the project “Sounding Memories” is investigating contemporary musical practices that engage with the memorialization of the Nazi period and WWII in Germany with a focus on resistance to and persecution by the regime. The project is building upon the premise that people construct representations of the past through musical practices and taking into account a wide range of musical genres (e.g. singer-songwriters, experimental and art music, punk rock and hip hop), social actors and sociocultural milieus. Considering memory as a mediator between narrated past, lived present and imaged futures, special attention is being devoted to the novel musical resources and collective sensibilities
mobilized in the process and to how sounding the memories of the Nazi past offers a critical arena for addressing current social issues in Germany and in Europe such as racism against immigrants and refugees, the resurgence of far-right and xenophobic movements and the struggles resulting from socioeconomic marginalization and inequalities based on ethnicity, religion and gender. The project is pursuing these objectives through three complementary research scenarios, emphasizing different aspects of musical practices of memorialization. These encompass a study of the Sinti and Roma minority (musical resources), of urban memoryscapes of Berlin (locality) and of current media practices and musical performances (mediatization/performance).

The project is part of the newly founded SONACT:
Music | Memory | Politics Study Lab at the Department of Ethnomusicology. It is connected with Prof. Federico Spinetti‘s research on music and memory of the Italian antifascist Resistenza and includes, among other aspects, an international collaboration with researchers in Slovenia and Spain as well as a provenance research project involving the collection of musical instruments of the University of Cologne.

Text: Monika Schoop, Federico Spinetti, Martin Ringsmut, Sidney König



Institute for Musicology, Department of Ethnomusicology
Prof. Dr. Federico Spinetti und Dr.’ Monika E. Schoop

Mediatization/Performance: Dr.’ Monika E. Schoop
Sinti und Roma: Martin Ringsmut M.A.
Locality/Berlin: Sidney König M.A.

E-mail fspinett(at), monika.schoop(at)