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Sven Bjerstedt

Sven Bjerstedt

Associate professor

Sven Bjerstedt

Musical marginalization processes: Problematizing the marginalization concept through an example from early 20th century American popular culture.


  • Sven Bjerstedt


  • Petter Dyndahl

Summary, in English

The author sets out to analyse a number of representations of the biblical Hagar figure in African American and white American culture. Spivak (1988) has problematized the marginalization concept with regard to the study of the third world subject, arguing that knowledge always expresses the interests of the knowledge producers, and that Western academic research is always colonial. The aim of the present analysis is to demonstrate that a certain doubleness and instability may be intrinsic to the concept of marginalization and may become visible through processes of transculturation. The Hagar figure of the Old Testament is arguably an archtypical symbol of definitive marginalization. In W. C. Handy's song "Aunt Hagar's Blues", her central symbolic function in African American culture is manifest. This study focuses on a couple of early 20th century popular culture representations of Handy's song: a 1922 sheet music cover and a 1958 Hollywood film plot. These two representations of Aunt Hagar are studied and analysed with concepts such as identity, meaning production and ideological power as a point of departure. The author argues that these popular culture representations have watered down completely several thousand years worth of cultural/mythological meaning production and that this phenomenon gives rise to interesting questions regarding the marginalization concept in relation to a deconstruction of the central/peripheral dichotomy.


  • Malmö Theatre Academy

Publishing year







Intersection and interplay: Contributions to the cultural study of music in performance, education, and society

Document type

Book chapter


Malmö: Lund University, Malmö Academy of Music. (Perspectives in music and music education, No. 9.)


  • Performing Arts


  • marginalization
  • transculturation
  • African American culture
  • identity




  • ISBN: 9789197958462