Gypsy/Klezmer Dialectics: Jewish and Romani Traces and Erasures in Contemporary European World Music
Topics: Main Topic: Culture and Heritage, Klezmer, Jewish Music, Jewish Heritage, Multiculturalism, Globalisation, Memory
Abstract: As klezmer and Balkan Romani music have become popularised in Western Europe since 1989, an increasing number of performers in both of these genres are non-Roma and non-Jews. This holds especially true for the new performance complex Gypsy/klezmer that imputes connections between two of Europe's quintessential Others, and, in transforming their ethnic specificities into a generic hybridity, facilitates the appropriation of their cultural goods by outsiders. I interrogate this complex and its semiotic conflation of Jews (absent Others constituted historically as over-present) and Roma (too-present Others who are historically absent) in the current European political climate that is multiculturalist but increasingly xenophobic. I note that Gypsy/klezmer performers claim a double authenticity based on a kind of hybridity that validates appropriation. I argue that specificities of Romani and Jewish geography, history and musical style are erased precisely as the Gypsy/klezmer complex becomes more popular.