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Abstract

In general, the concept of propaganda refers to a method as well as the symbolic object mobilized by it. Propaganda equally constitutes a particular type of communication that involves not only the mobilization of objects, but also of discourse, places, acts, and rituals. This essay employs the writings of Max Weber, Paul Ricœur, Jacques Ellul, and Jacques Rancière to analyze propaganda as a particular type of symbolic political dispositif linked to a specific performance and utterance context. I examine humanitarian songs as a propaganda tool in democracy, and show the conditions and the limits of their mobilization through their contextualization. I argue that the link between music and propaganda could be defined as the willingness of a particular power or organized opposition to control the symbolic and emotional dimension of musical works. Through giving the music a meaning in this way, they try to impose a certain social order or to invalidate other possible political configurations of reality. I discuss the contradiction between the specific polysemy of musical works and the fictional construction of reality produced by propaganda, and conclude that the political dimension of music should not necessarily be reduced to the propaganda dispositif. These musical works require consideration of the possibilities offered through fiction in contexts of specific representation, as well as the political dimension of collaborative musical practices.

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