Music is frequently connected to leftist politics and seen as the soundtrack to social protest movements, most notably the civil rights movement. But the far right groups use music too. Benjamin Teitelbaum's Lions of the North: Sounds of the New Nordic Radical Nationalism (Oxford University Press, 2017) explores how Swedish and Nordic far right parties deployed music in the 2000's to expand the reach of their ideas. Consciously rejecting the sounds of White Power music and the image of skinheads in favor of pop music, hip-hop, and reggae, leaders of Sweden's far right parties used the change in music to make in-roads into mainstream political discourse.
In this podcast Teitelbaum discusses the shifting theoretical landscape that undergirds the radical nationalism and how this led to a variety of approaches toward music by far right parties. We explore how far right musicians and audiences came to use African-inspired musical forms in their effort to spread their ideas about Swedish nationalism. In addition to exploring questions of race, the conversation also examines the changing role of women in far right music and the vexed position of folk music. The podcast concludes with drawing some comparisons and contrasts between far right movements in the United States and Sweden.
Benjamin R. Teitelbaum is Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Colorado. Teitelbaum's commentary on music and politics has appeared in major European and American media outlets, in addition to scholarly venues. He has contributed as an expert for NPR, Swedish Radio, Norwegian Radio, the BBC, Aftonbladet, Dagens Nyheter, Helsinge Sanomat and Berlingske, and he has authored op-eds in the New York Times, Foreign Policy, Dagbladet and the Wall Street Journal. Teitelbaum is also a musician who specializes in Swedish folk music and Sweden's unofficial national instrument, the nyckelharpa. More information about him can be found on his website.
The host for this episode is Richard Schur, Professor of English at Drury University. He is the author of Parodies of Ownership: Hip Hop Aesthetics and Intellectual Property Law and the co-editor of African American Culture and Legal Discourse.