In the Soviet Union, logics of teleological evolutionism undergirded the Communist party-state’s interventions into many aspects of Soviet life, including the realm of “folk music.” In this article, I draw on the example of the Soviet institutionalization of a Crimean Tatar folk orchestra to demonstrate how Soviet musical evolutionism ordered and constrained vernacular musical practices in ways that have had long-term political consequences, especially with regard to the politics of post-Soviet indigeneity. I conclude by comparing the Soviet case to a contemporary discourse of musical evolutionism, observing how it risks exiling some musics to a present that is “less evolved.”
Maria Sonevytsky is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of California - Berkeley.
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This lecture series is a collaborative effort to showcase an area studies specialist from each center focusing on the Russian, East European, and Central Asian world region. The series is sponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University; the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley; the Russian, East European & Eurasian Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University; the Center for Russian, East European, & Eurasian Studies at the University of Michigan; the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at The University of Texas at Austin; the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center at Indiana University; the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Pittsburgh; the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia at the University of Wisconsin - Madison; the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies at The University of Chicago; and the Center for Slavic and East European Studies at The Ohio State University.