Iain Chambers

Southern skies, southern sounds, southern questions

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Using music as a critical compass, as method, this essay seeks to re-examine Italy's so-called southern question through the deployment of more extensive maps and an unsuspected critical language. This proposal registers a very different archive of the formation of the modern Mediterranean and Europe's south: repressed and negated histories re-emerge in a diverse cultural and historical composition. A Mediterranean musicality, that acquires further specificity in the post-1945 urban popular music scene in Naples, permits us to prise open the provincial definitions of the Italian south. Drawing upon a wider, ultimately planetary, series of coordinates the analysis re-locates the debate on southern «backwardness» and «underdevelopment» in the asymmetrical relations of power that constitute the colonial formation of modern Europe and its postcolonial present. Ultimately, this means to propose a very different take on the «southern question» in a modernity that turns out to be neither mono-dimensional nor simply of Occidental provenance.


  • Popular Music
  • Southern Question
  • Mediterranean Colonialism
  • Post-colonial Criticism


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