Re-Rewind: Heritage, Representation and Music City Aspiration in Southampton

Toby Bennett

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    What kind of a city is a Music City? This chapter holds on to the common-sense notion that there is no single, final answer to this question; no blueprint and no original. Nonetheless, the argument made here takes place against a backdrop not only of the proliferation of Music City discourse, but also of its increasingly precise definition. Focusing on the UK, it begins by outlining two distinct economic imaginaries, where UNESCO’s ‘Cities of Music’ development agenda is increasingly paralleled and challenged by a more recent incarnation, ‘Music Cities’, aligned more closely with the normative aims of mainstream national and international music industries. It then moves to explore the relevance and the negotiation of these two imaginaries in the specific case of Southampton, a medium-sized port city on the south coast of the UK. Southampton presents an atypical example—lacking a distinctive or widely recognised cultural identity—yet an aspirational one, where the city’s cultural development strategy evolved to include an aim to become a recognised ‘Music City’. It is thus an intriguing case to explore how such a project might be constructed from scratch. Doing so raises the challenge of recognising the cultural embeddedness of local music economies, particularly through the common frame of ‘heritage’. The aim here is not to assess whether these designations are legitimate in this case but to consider the difficult and diverse work of recognising and remembering local music histories, beyond calls to ‘celebrate’ and ‘promote’ them, in unfolding a present-day cultural economy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMusic Cities
    Subtitle of host publicationEvaluating a Global Cultural Policy Concept
    EditorsChristina Ballico, Allan Watson
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
    Number of pages24
    ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-35872-3
    ISBN (Print)978-3-030-35871-6
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Publication series

    NameNew Directions in Cultural Policy Research


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