Lecture by Uri Dorchin, Ph.D.
The Israel Institute Visiting Professor, Y&S Nazarian Center For Israel Studies, UCLA
Popular Music and Holocaust Commemoration in Israel: Between Regulation and Expansion of Legitimate Expressions
Abstract: Collective memory of the Holocaust and the attendant debates that infuse its construction hold a significant role in defining a sense of national identity in Israel. This paper examines the increasing influence of popular music in that process. In the specific context of the National Holocaust Memorial Day, I claim that while local media adheres to the formal obligation to adjust its routine programming, it also strives to moderate the shift from routine conduct to a special mode by featuring a musical playlist that bridges, rather than breaks, the connection between the sacred and the secular. Comparing two state-run initiatives that invested in popular music explicitly to mediate the grave subject of the Holocaust to a mass audience, this paper explores contemporary trends as well as the limits of tolerance on the part of Israelis toward these trends. Although the success of such projects in presenting the Holocaust to an otherwise indifferent public is debatable, they nonetheless stimulate arguments concerning the fate of Holocaust commemoration in the age of popular media and its future contribution to collective memory in Israel.
Uri Dorchin is a cultural anthropologist; he is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at the Academic College in Zefat, Israel, and is currently The Israel Institute Visiting Faculty at the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies at UCLA. Dorchin is the author of Real Time: Hip Hop in Israel/Israeli Hip Hop.
Part of the Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy Colloquium Series, sponsored by The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Department of Ethnomusicology