Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2017


While the decline of protest music in the USA has often been noted, a global perspective reveals that progressive, activist protest musics occupied lively niches in many music cultures worldwide (e.g., of Jamaica, India, Spain, Latin America) during similar periods, roughly the 1950s-80s. While on one level these music movements were embedded in particular socio-political movements, on a broader level they reflected an ardent commitment to the secular universalist ideals of the Enlightenment. The subsequent dramatic decline of all these protest musics—roughly since Fukuyama’s much-debated “end of history”—reflects a broader transformation of the global political climate. This transformation has both salutary aspects—notably the spread of democracies—and dismaying ones, notably the decline of Enlightenment metanarratives and their replacement by new tribalisms, which have found their own passionate expression in music.


This work was originally published in Music & Politics, available at

This work is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial No Derivatives 3.0 Unported License.

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