Russia Gets the Blues: Music, Culture, and Community in Unsettled Times

By Habeck, Joachim Otto | Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, March 2007 | Go to article overview

Russia Gets the Blues: Music, Culture, and Community in Unsettled Times


Habeck, Joachim Otto, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute


URBAN, MICHAEL WITH ANDREI EVDOKIMOV. Russia gets the blues: music, culture, and community in unsettled times. xviii, 179 pp., fig., illus., bibliogr. London, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univ. Press, 2004. [pounds sterling]25.95 (cloth), [pounds sterling]10.50 (paper)

One need not be a blues fan to find this book inspiring. US anthropologist Michael Urban and his collaborator, Russian blues expert Andrei Evdokimov, have jointly committed themselves to a thorough exploration of the blues scene in Russia. The resulting book is comprehensive without being tedious, it employs multiple conceptual approaches without indulging in intellectual frills, and its style is distinct yet accessible.

The first of the book's seven chapters contains an explanation of the 'attraction of the music' (p. 9) and an outline of Urban's ideas on the transmission and reception of music as a cultural form. Four aspects are sketched out here: (i) the creation of cultural distinction through the maintenance of English in the lyrics and through other stylistic means; (ii) status inversion, expressed in the permutation of 'low culture' into 'high culture', i.e. in the introduction of a historically marginal and subversive style of Afro-American music into the Russian intellectual sphere; (iii) the existence of a network of individuals who are willing to take on and promote the music's cultural import; and (iv) cultural imperialism, which is hardly applicable in the case under study, as 'blues produced in Russia can hardly be considered commercial music' (p. 22). Chapters 2 to 5 describe the development of blues bands and venues across time--from the 1980s to the 2000s--and space (Moscow, St Petersburg, and the provinces). Bands are identified as the elementary social units and 'core mode of organization' (p. 116). Venues and other means of performance constitute the key resources that blues musicians require and, at times, compete for. In chapters 6 and 7, Urban aptly draws conclusions on 'identity and community' and the 'politics' at work within the blues scene. The main argument of the book consists in the finding that 'the community's overarching norm, authenticity (p. 116, my emphasis), is constantly disputed among blues musicians as it serves as the main component constituting the boundary between inclusion and exclusion of bands in/from the blues community. Even if bluesmen would like to make a living from their music, they confront a paradox: the very commercialization that could make their music profitable would, at the same time, render it 'inauthentic'.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Russia Gets the Blues: Music, Culture, and Community in Unsettled Times
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.