Shifting Symbolic Boundaries on Cultural Markets. Entrepreneurial Strategies of Immigrant Musicians in Austria

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 12:30
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Michael PARZER, University of Vienna, Austria
This paper explores the strategies immigrant musicians apply to actively address members beyond their “own” community. By drawing on the findings of ethnographic research on immigrant musicians in Austria, I present a typology of presentation and marketing strategies. The strategies may make use of ethnicity (“authentic Turkish music”) or draw on the recent political discourse on integration (“intercultural communication” and “art as a bridge between communities”). However, there are also forms of marketing which try to resist the commodification of ethnicity: By presenting their work as “cosmopolitan art”, musicians avoid being stigmatized and categorized as “ethnic” or “migrant”. These ways of positioning one’s artistic work on cultural markets shed light on the ambivalent position of immigrant artists between the strategic use of ethnicity and their migration histories for commercial reasons and the negative implications of this commercialisation by (re)producing ethnic stereotypes and categorisation. The findings contribute to recent debates on the role of migrants’ artistic practices in the making and unmaking of symbolic boundaries between minorities and the majority population. Additionally, I will exemplify in this paper the application of an immigrant-business-perspective on artistic production of migrants and show how it reveals the interplay between economic and cultural aspects within fields of immigrant artistic production.