Living Politics, Making Music: The Writings of Jan Fairley, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Living Politics, Making Music

The Writings of Jan Fairley, 1st Edition

By Jan Fairley, edited by Simon Frith, Ian Christie


218 pages

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The late Jan Fairley (1949-2012) was a key figure in making world music a significant topic for popular music studies and an influential contributor to such world music magazines as fRoots and Songlines. This book celebrates her contribution to popular music scholarship by gathering her most important work together in a single place. The result is a richly informed and entertaining volume that will be of interest to all scholars in the field while also serving as an excellent introduction for students interested in popular music as a global phenomenon. Fairley’s work was focused on the problems and possibilities of cross-cultural musical influences, fantasies and flows and on the importance of performing circuits and networks. Her interest in the details of music-making and in the lives of music-makers means that this collection is also an original and illuminating study of music and politics. In drawing on Jan Fairley’s journalism, this volume also offers students a guide to various genres of world music, from Cuban son to flamenco, as well as an insight into the lives of such world music stars as Mercedes Sosa and Silvio Rodríguez. This is inspiring as well as essential reading.


’… read this book and you’ll understand nueva canción, Cuban son, flamenco, and some steamy Cuban Latin slang much, much better’. Songlines **** ’This is a must-read for Latin Americanists, music researchers, students, activists and music aficionados.’ Popular Music

About the Authors

Simon Frith is Tovey Professor of Music at the University of Edinburgh. He was a founder member of IASPM and a founding editor of Popular Music. He is presently working on a three volume history of live music in the UK since 1950. The first volume,1950-1967. From Dance Hall to the 100 Club, was published by Ashgate in 2013. He chairs the judges of the Mercury Music Prize and is a Fellow of the British Academy. Stan Rijven is a Dutch pop music critic and historian, DJ and cultural entrepreneur. From the seventies onwards he pioneered the documenting of the rise of pop and world music culture in various Dutch media and abroad. He is a founder member of IASPM, Pop Archive Netherlands (PAN) and World Music Forum NL (WMF NL). Ian Christie is Anniversary Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck College. From 1976-1996 he worked at the British Film Institute as, variously, Head of Distribution, Exhibition, Video Publishing and Special Projects. His most recent book is Audience (2012). He is a regular broadcaster and writer for Sight and Sound, and a Fellow of the British Academy.

About the Series

Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series

Popular musicology embraces the field of musicological study that engages with popular forms of music, especially music associated with commerce, entertainment and leisure activities. The Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series aims to present the best research in this field. Authors are concerned with criticism and analysis of the music itself, as well as locating musical practices, values and meanings in cultural context. The focus of the series is on popular music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a remit to encompass the entirety of the world’s popular music.

Critical and analytical tools employed in the study of popular music are being continually developed and refined in the twenty-first century. Perspectives on the transcultural and intercultural uses of popular music have enriched understanding of social context, reception and subject position. Popular genres as distinct as reggae, township, bhangra, and flamenco are features of a shrinking, transnational world. The series recognizes and addresses the emergence of mixed genres and new global fusions, and utilizes a wide range of theoretical models drawn from anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, media studies, semiotics, postcolonial studies, feminism, gender studies and queer studies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General
MUSIC / Genres & Styles / International
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural