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The Cultural Politics of Barcelona’s Free Improvisation Scene

'Rituals of Resistance, Trans-Generic Utopias, and the Limits of Free-(idi)oms: The Cultural Politics of Barcelona’s Free Improvisation Scene' Adam Havas (University of Barcelona, Center for the Study of Culture, Politics and Society, Department of Sociology)

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The Cultural Politics of Barcelona’s Free Improvisation Scene
The Cultural Politics of Barcelona’s Free Improvisation Scene

Date & Location

30 مارس 2023، 15:00

Online Lecture

About the Event


Based on an ongoing research employing (auto)ethnography, qualitative interview technique and comparative historical methods, this talk aims to explore the tensions between non-idiomatic free improvisation performances and radical social activism with particular emphasis on the experiences of diaspora musicians. Following the outline of the theoretical framework informed by postcolonial scholarship, Bourdieusian “field analysis” and cultural studies, I draw on my fieldwork conducted at the small collectivist bookstore “La Social” situated in Barcelona’s Poble Sec district that hosts free improv events on a weekly basis featuring the city’s eclectic and multi-ethnic but marginal (avant-garde) musical community. Profoundly embedded in the city’s loosely connected network of cultural centers that promote a range of grassroot social initiatives, the performance rituals (as some musicians conceptualize these events) manifest controversial aspects of radicalism stemming from the tensions between economic disinterestedness, non-idiomatic aesthetics and egalitarian social / ideological agendas connected to the tangible impact of global capitalism on local communities. Instead of providing an overarching interpretation of these ephemeral acts of resistance, my objective is rather posing the relevant questions concerning the cultural motifs of radical musical experimentation that aims to transcend genre, race-, and place-based boundaries to create an utopistic realm of musical encounters. To challenge the ahistoricism and deconstructionism of contemporary avant-jazz aesthetics, the talk closes by discussing a case study of the ensemble Qiyan, a project that combines Arabic, Jewish and Sephardi musical traditions with free jazz aesthetics.


Ádám Havas is a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at the University of Barcelona, Department of Sociology, member of the Center for the Study of Culture, Politics and Society (CECUPS). His research sits at the intersection of cultural sociology, postcolonial studies and popular music studies. His EU-funded comparative research project aims to explore the cultural politics of musical diasporas in Europe with particular emphasis on of musicians with Afro-Latin, Black British and Gypsy/Romani backgrounds. He was Chair of IASPM-Hungary

Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship 

Project number: 101067143

Project name: Improvising Europe: Jazz, Cultural Globalisation and the Reinvention of Multiethnic Identities

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