Seminar | Music and Body: tradition & transgression in gender and queer conditions
02.11.2021 | 16:00-18:00 | NOVA FCSH | Room B 201
The Eurovision Song Contest: where nationhood and LGBTQ belonging meet through popular music?
The Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), like the sports tournaments, is structured on a logic of 'banal nationalism' (Billig 1995), where much of the meaning and pleasure spectators make from its performances comes from the spectacle of nation competing against nation. Semiotically, the international competitive structure of ESC invites a spectatorial 'gaze' (or way of seeing) in which all performers embody their nations, and their embodied performances draw meaning from how they harness or subvert audience expectations about gender, nation, ethnicity, sexuality and race. ESC lets fans celebrate sexuality and nationhood, as well as sexuality and European- ness, together. ESC's incorporation into the international geopolitics of LGBTQ rights adds an extra dimension to Peter Rehberg's observation (2007). When we watch the show, alongside national flags, ESC's large LGBTQ fan base has meant that one of the most visible flags in the audience has been the rainbow flag – pulling ESC into the international politics of queer visibility and Pride. ESC, with its rituals of competition between nations, exemplifies the paradox of 'unity in diversity' visions of Europe, where celebrating a transnational collective identity involves continued reliance on its component nation-states, while contested and diverse identifications within each nation are often compressed into one undifferentiated national whole. At the same time, the tension about the visibility of queer symbols and identities echoes a tension that queer people living under state homophobia must themselves negotiate in everyday life. In this session, Catherine Baker debates the tensions in the representation of different belongings, whether collective or individual, showing some recent examples (2019 and 2021), triggering the discussion about the tensions between nationhood and LGBTQ belonging in the ESC.
- Baker, C (2019). 'If Love Was a Crime, We Would Be Criminals': The Eurovision Song Contest and the Queer International Politics of Flags. In Kalman, Wellings, and Jacotine (eds.). Eurovisions: Identity and the international politics of the Eurovision Song Contest since 1956. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Rehberg, P (2007) 'Winning Failure: Queer Nationality at the Eurovision Song Contest', SQS: Journal of Queer Studies in Finland, 2, 60–65. https://journal.fi/sqs/article/- view/53668/16790
Catherine Baker is a specialist in post-Cold War history, international relations and cultural studies, including the post-Yugoslav region in a transnational and global context. Her research projects are connected by an overarching interest in the politics of representing, narrating and knowing about the past. Catherine's current projects include relationships between war / the military and popular culture; the cultural politics of international events (including the Eurovision Song Contest); LGBTQ politics and identities since the late Cold War, including queer representation in media; and 'race' in the Yugoslav region. She has also researched interpreters / translators in peacekeeping. Catherine teaches A History of Freedom, The Third Reich, 1933-45, and contributes to postgraduate research training.
Sofia Vieira Lopes specializes in the Portuguese national selection to the Eurovision Song Contest under the supervision of João Soeiro de Carvalho. She researches on Music and Television, Music Festivals, Music and Media, and Music Industries. She holds a BA in Musicology and a master's degree in Ethnomusicology at the same institution with the dissertation about music, television, and protest song during the Dictatorship. She is the Team Leader and member of the Scientific Committee of the EUROVISIONS International Conference Eurovisions: Perspectives from the Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts (1st. ed. Lisbon, 2018; 2nd ed. 2019; 3rd ed. Online 2020; 4th ed. Online 2021; 5th ed. Ongoing). (www.eurovisions.eu).
Irving Wolther studied applied linguistic and cultural studies and journalism at the Universities of Mainz, Geneve and Hanover. Working on the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) for over 40 years, his dissertation 'Kampf der Kulturen: Der ESC als Mittel national- -kultureller Repräsentation', in 2006, analyses inter-relationships with media, music industry, politics and national culture; and as a lecturer and journalist for the official German ESC website, and as a keynote speaker for the Institut d'études politiques de Paris, the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung and teaching at various educational institutions. He publishes regularly on the ESC and other subjects of popular culture. In 2018, together with Sofia Vieira Lopes, he created the Conference EUROVISIONS: Perspectives from the Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts (1st ed. Lisbon, 2018; 2nd ed. Tel Aviv, 2019; 3rd ed. Online 2020; 4th ed. Online 2021; 5th ed. Ongoing; www.eurovisions.eu) which he is the Team Leader and member of the Scientific Committee.