Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Rough music: what reaction does it get?

It's been a while since I posted anything here. I've been busy with various things: I had a great time at the Folklore Society's 'Urban Folklore' conference in Cardiff in April and I'm gearing up for the next SIEF Congress, and I also had a very jolly time co-hosting a Folklore Society social event last week.

There's also been a lot going on in the world around me. I've been fascinated for a while by political protests using rough music, and the unfolding events in Turkey have offered a clear sense of how rough music is understood by the people at whom it is directed.

A week and a half ago, after police had cleared protesters out of Gezi Park with tear gas, prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed a rally of his supporters on Istanbul's waterfront. Erdogan's speech sought to distance the country at large from the protests in Taksim Square, and blamed foreign governments and media for their destabilisation of Turkey.

One of his comments was particularly striking. Turkey, he told his supporters, 'is not the one banging pots at night'. For all that this was supposed to be a ringing denunciation to encourage his own forces, Erdogan's comment underscores the impact rough music has on its targets. There is a definite sense that the moral disapproval being expressed has registered. The reaction to it demonstrates the effectiveness of the practice.

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