3- Jazz, Branding and Cultural Cold War - Peter Verdin, Memorial University Newfoundland
1:30 PM, Saturday 25 May 2019 (2 hours)
Coffee break 03:30 PM to 04:00 PM (30 minutes)
Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) - DS-R520
Starting in 1958, the United States began to sponsor international tours of American jazz artists. These tours - which featured such jazz luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Louis Armstrong, and the inimitable Duke Ellington - were part of an effort by the United States to leverage certain forms of expressive culture as a method of expanding global ideological influence. Conventionally known as soft power, the leveraging of particular artistic expressions as the reflections of a uniquely American, capitalist body politic is an example of ‘branding’. While branding is a concept that has been used to describe contemporary relationships between cultural fields and economic influence, this discussion explores, expands and attempts to clarify the idea of ‘brand’ by situating it within the historical context of the Cold War. In doing so, this discussion attempts to strip the idea of branding from a strict post-modern framing and, in the process, to elucidate the concept as an obvious result born from the confluence of cultural capital, global technology and political and economic power. Using Bourdieu’s model of ‘fields’, this talk demonstrates that the idea of the ‘brand’ is not a new concept. Rather, it simply one which has only recently reached critical visibility due to the current ubiquity of neo-liberal practices. By looking to the past, this discussion makes clearer the relationship between capital, power, and technology. Exploring these relationships provides a useful paradigm for future research and critical theory.