Scoring Africa. Film Music as Cultural Colonialism
On-screen »Africa« still appears as a historically unspecific site of longing and refuge beyond colonialism, where white people live out their private conflicts, such as Meryl Streep in Out of Africa (1985). What role does film music play in the production of a colonially shaped concept of the African continent? Maria Fuchs explores the question of how clichés in the musical encoding of a filmic Africa emerge. By considering not only the »textual« level of film scores but also the »raw material« of soundtracks, she addresses film music’s production in terms of sampling politics. In addition to a cross-section of historically influential European and US-American film productions (e.g., The Lion King, 1994), the filmic research repertoire includes a selection of popular German-language TV productions, which sometimes center narratives of whiteness in Africa as well as the conquest of the continent in the sense of a newly won »homeland«.
Maria Fuchs studied musicology, comparative literature, and gender studies at the University of Vienna and the Freie Universität Berlin and received her PhD from the University of Vienna with a dissertation on the theory and practice of silent film music (Marburg: Schüren, 2017). From 2012 to 2014 she was a doctoral fellow of the University of Vienna and the DAAD with a study and research stay at the Department for Music and Media Studies at the Humboldt University Berlin. From 2015 to 2023 she was a lecturer at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, the Berlin University of the Arts, and the University of Salzburg. From 2020 to 2022, she was an Erwin Schrödinger Fellow (FWF) postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Popular Culture and Music at the Albert Ludwig University in Freiburg and head of the research project »Soundscapes of ›Heimat‹: Mapping Musical Signatures in Heimatfilm and Bergfilm (1930–1970)«, and from 2022 to 2023 she was a senior postdoctoral researcher at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna as part of the FWF project.
mit Knut Holtsträter und Johannes Müske (Hg.), World Music and its Critique: Postcolonial Approaches to Global Music, Freiburg 2023 (= Yearbook Lied und Populäre Kultur/Song and Popular Culture 67); Stummfilmmusik. Theorie und Praxis im »Allgemeinen Handbuch der Film-Musik« (1927), Marburg 2017 (= Marburger Schriften zur Medienforschung 68); »The Silences of the Woods: Heimat and Anti-Heimat«, in: 19th-Century Music, Special Issue on Film Music, ed. Berthold Hoeckner, 2023.
Das »Afrika« auf der Leinwand erscheint nach wie vor als historisch unspezifischer und jenseits des Kolonialismus liegender Sehnsuchts- und Zufluchtsort, an dem Weiße ihre privaten Konflikte ausleben, wie etwa Maryl Streep in Out of Africa (1985).