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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Music, Politics, and the Public Sphere (Class): Home

Music is often associated with the creativity, pleasure, leisure, and aesthetic appreciation, while politics are associated with the organization of public life. What then might be the relationship between music, politics, and the public sphere?


This guide is setup to follow the course "Music, Politics, and the Public Sphere," taught by Professor Nili Belkind.

This is an interdisciplinary course and the readings are culled from scholarly work in philosophy, sociology, anthropology, musicology, ethnomusicology, history and cultural studies. At the same time, the course places much emphasis on how what we hear organizes our public lives. As such, the class will put as much emphasis on listening to musical examples – audio-files, YouTube videos and documentaries – as on the texts that provide the theoretical basis for the course. Together the class will think about, process, and analyze information commonly associated with sensory and affective domains, as integral aspects of our intellectual endeavors, social identities, and political identifications.


Assignments & Grading


Ongoing Class Preparation / Participation (35% of total grade)

A discussion board is posted in each folder that contains the readings, viewings or listenings that you are responsible for in preparation for class. You are expected to write a few lines (or paragraph) pertaining to each of the readings. Responses are due by 8 PM on the night before the class date.


Leading class discussion

(15% of total grade)

Each student will get to lead one class of his/her choice during the semester, which requires extra preparation, attention to responses, and sensitivity to class dynamics


Short description of research project and annotated bibliography/source list. Due class 8 March, 8. (15% of total grade)

Over the semester you will be expected to write a research paper based on a topic of your choice within the parameters of the scope of the class.


Research Paper. Due: May 6, 4 PM in electronic and hard copy (35% of total grade)

For your research project, you will select a topic based on your own interests.

Details outlined in the Syllabus.

Length of research paper: 20-25 pages plus references.


Course Topics

  • Music, Politics, Identity
  • Music & Identity; Power and Hegemony; Political Economy 
  • Music, Place and Nation Making 1 (Classical music focus)
  • Music, Place and Nation 2: Complicating the ‘Nation’ Paradigm 
  • Music and the Nationless: The Roma
  • Music and Ethno-National: Case Studies in the Music of Yugoslavia (1990s)
  • Music and Ethno-National: Israel-Palestine
  • Post 9-11 World I: Music, Political Violence, Censorship 
  • Post 9/11 World II: Sonic Life of the ‘Global War on Terror’
  • Music and Governmentality
  • Music, Social Movements and Change 2: South Africa

Course Contact Information

- Instructor: Nili Belkind
- E-mail:
- Time and Location: Music Building 2234, 1– 3:50 PM
- Office Hours and Location: Music Building Room 5019, Tuesday 4 PM or by appointment (*please let me know in advance if you intend to come to office hours). 
- Cell: 917.855.6449

*You will find all your readings, listenings, viewings etc. on the compass webpage unless available in e-book format through the library. Hard copies of books and media associated with this course will be put on reserves at the Music Library.

contact the Middle East Subject Specialist

Laila Hussein Moustafa