Rhythmic politics of the national body: Performativities of coloniality and racism in marches and school parades


Dafni Tragaki




The article examines the interweaving of coloniality and racism with nationalism in Greek music history apropos the investigation of march and the parade as modern disciplinary mechanisms for the performative production of the docile national body. It suggests the interpretation of march as audibility of the empire and as a transhistorical genre re-materalizing affectivities of the white supremacy, militaristic subjectifications, and fluid fictions and cosmopolitics of national/European belonging. The (re-)mapping of the march’s cultural history aims at foregrounding the complex networking and translatabilities of the military musical tradition in Greece with the march’s global trajectories in the context of European imperialism. The examination of march and the parade as disciplines is coupled with the critical account of modern scientific discourses on rationalized rhythmicity, the racial, gender and class aspects of rhythmology and its interconnections with institutional/state politics for the national body’s production, as is the case with school parades. Rationalized rhythm is approached in this case primarily as a political concept: as a temporal and temporalizing assemblage of beats-sounds-bodies-senses-affectivities that performatively rhythmicizes the parading body. Contemporary civil democracies’ capitalization of the school parade as a rhythmic and coordinated disciplinary performativity is paradigmatically highlighted through the discussion of the Greek post-Junta relevant legislation and the special significance ascribed to the detailed discursive regulation and normalization of the right national, Christian, white citizenship. Altogether, the above interpretive axes point to the potentialities of a postcolonial reading of Greek musical modernity to re-orient our historical imagination towards—comparatively obscured in the historiography of musical nationalism—racist and colonial performativities, while questioning the politics of their ceaseless continuity in the public sphere.


Dafni Tragaki is an ethnomusicologist and assistant professor at the Department of History, Archaeology. and Social Anthropology, University of Thessaly.