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Jelena Beočanin MA

PhD candidate


Area(s) of interest: Colonialism & Postcolonialism, European History, Music & Theatre History, Political History

Cohort/Start PhD: 2023-2024

From Resistance to Pleasure and Back? Hip-hop and activism in postcolonial Rotterdam and Bristol

Erasmus University Rotterdam
Supervisors: Prof. dr. PT van de Laar (promotor), Prof. dr. PPL Berkers (promotor), Dr. Maarten van Dijck (daily supervisor)
Start PhD: 1 January 2023

The art of resistance marked the history of African American music and culture (Rose 2004, 293). How does European hip-hop resistance manifest today in discussions about postcolonial identities and colonial legacies? It is worth asking how the socially and politically conscious resistance and activism in hip-hop culture have been transformed since its European beginnings in the 1980s due to the politicisation of migration, failures of multicultural policies and ‘othering’ integration narratives. These dynamics are particularly prominent in port cities, such as Rotterdam and Bristol, which share a legacy of colonialism, inequalities and political tensions and discrimination. This project asks the following research question: how do hip-hop artists in Rotterdam and Bristol engage in postcolonial debates as political actors? The comparative approach of this project allows me to hypothesize, broaden the frame of analysis and synthesize in new ways. I have chosen methods of data collection that cover the production, consumption/dissemination, and reception of hip-hop art and its activism to create a dynamic and truly reciprocal overview. The research methodology includes qualitative interviews and oral histories, analyses of media, policy and archival documents, films and videos. My study emphasizes how culture and arts can be a resource for political organizations that can change the ‘balance of power’ in cities and countries (Martiniello 2022, 7) and explores the (un)usual suspects in these debates. (220)