Brigid CohenNov 15, 2023
Musical Migration and Imperial New York
Early Cold War Scenes
University of Chicago Press 2022
The heart of Brigid Cohen’s Musical Migration and Imperial New York: Early Cold War Scenes (University of Chicago Press, 2022) are the connections forged and broken amid the dislocations caused by war and imperialist ambitions. Rather than telling a simple chronological narrative, Cohen circles loosely around a single year, 1960, and crosses time and place to examine how a group of artists mediated ideas of displacement, race, gender, imperialism, and Cold War Orientalism in their work. Cohen begins with an examination of the complex musical and personal interactions during the 1957 Greenwich House sessions organized by Edgard Varèse, and then turns to the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, the early work of Yoko Ono, and finally the early years of Fluxus. She considers a disparate collection of crossed paths in New York City, a place she calls a “capital of Empire.” While she focuses on figures, institutions, and groups that are well known among scholars who work on music and Cold War politics, she looks under and around these familiar topics to center people, art, and events that have been overlooked or even dismissed in other scholarship.
Kristen M. Turner is a lecturer in the music and honors departments at North Carolina State University. Her research centers on race and class in American popular entertainment at the turn of the twentieth century.