Title

Refraining on necropolitics: lyrical geographies of labor music

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-17-2021

Department

Department of Social Sciences

Abstract

All music takes place somewhere. While geographic analyses of lyrics have focused on the geographies of artists and/or particular places and regions of their inspiration, we see a developing opportunity to discuss music as a fundamental component of social resistance. While scholars have discussed social resistance in music as practiced by artists, such a focus has been researched less in regard to entire social movements on a certain topic. We will fill that gap here by discussing the role that labor plays in popular music lyrics. Using a qualitative analysis of historic and contemporary songs, this paper posits that necropolitics–analyzing the source of power over an individual’s positionality and physical well-being–stands at the core of such song meanings. Therefore, as a result, much labor music incites Marxian understandings of capitalism, poverty, and degraded social reproduction. We suggest this assessment offers a deeper insight into such lyrics and also helps explain the anthemic popularity of many labor-focused songs that have appealed to the working class over many decades.

Publication Title

Journal of Cultural Geography

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