Space and Place in Jazz

Authored by: Andrew Berish

The Routledge Companion to Jazz Studies

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138231160
eBook ISBN: 9781315315805
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



Over the past twenty years, the study of space and place has become a core part of the humanistic disciplines. Scholars studying art through analytical lens of space and place have generated large bibliographies in diverse fields: art history, English, anthropology, cultural studies, and history. Musicologists and ethnomusicologists, including jazz scholars, have only recently begun incorporating these ideas into their work. Given the centrality of cities to the emergence of jazz, the music’s rapid assimilation across the globe, and its current-day cosmopolitanism, it is surprising that there has been so little writing about the ways jazz represents, defines, and challenges the spaces and places of modern life. After defining terms and briefly surveying the key theoretical works, I will briefly survey how theories of space and place have generated new work in musicology and ethnomusicology. Jazz studies has largely avoided a direct engagement with this theoretical literature, and when it has, scholars have frequently fallen back on essentialist notions of place and deterministic models of its influence on music. Place and space are processes, not things; they are always becoming. Their relationship to social life is complicated—a process of mutual constitution. Music too is process-—a dynamic activity and art form created and experienced over time and in these dynamic spaces and places. The real challenge for scholars remains how to connect these two phenomena in ways faithful to the fluidity and complexity of their changing interactions.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.