At home, I’m a tourist: Musical migration and affective citizenship in Berlin
This article explores the ways in which musical, sonic, and more broadly sensory experiences of Berlin provide the ground for an ambivalent sense of civic belonging for a cadre of migrants affiliated with the city’s local electronic dance music scenes. Drawn from ethnographic fieldwork, the accounts of these ‘techno migrants’ articulate an identification with the local music scenes, the built environment of the city, its urban soundscapes, its pace of life, its low population-density, its socio-economic and multicultural mix, the attitudes and sartorial styles of its residents, and the palpable sense of both recent history and imminent future. The affective dimensions of these identifications provide a means of sustaining a fantasy of belonging to a place where one remains foreign, relying on immersion in and identification with the city’s atmospheres to hold in abeyance the alienating aspects of migration. Thus, the feeling of being ‘at home’ in Berlin stands in for other modes of civic belonging (e.g., legal, ethnic, cultural) to which techno-migrants have limited or obstructed access. These musical migrants seem to engage in a form of ‘affective citizenship’ (Berlant 1997; Jones 2001; Mookherjee 2005), where a sense of belonging is sustained through affective experiences that index belonging, sometimes regardless of whether such belonging has juridical or social recognition.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of Groningen
Publication date: June 1, 2015
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- Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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