Music and apartheid are focus of IU Institute for Advanced Study Branigin Lecture

  • Feb. 3, 2017


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Musicologist and oral historian Janie Cole will present a Spring 2017 Branigin Lecture on music and protest, under the auspices of the Institute for Advanced Study at Indiana University Bloomington.

Cole’s talk, "'Soiled by Black Lips': Music, Resistance, Race and Incarceration in Apartheid South Africa," will take place in Ford-Crawford Hall (Simon Music Center, 200 S. Jordan Ave.) from 4 to 5 p.m. on Feb. 7. The event is free and open to the public; light refreshments will be served afterwards.

Cole will draw on her research on South African music, protest and oral history during the struggle against apartheid. She is currently working on a book on the subject and, with her non-profit organization Music Beyond Borders, is creating a digital oral history archive and a documentary film related to apartheid prisons.

Giovanni Zanovello, assistant professor of musicology at the IU Jacobs School of Music, and Alex Lichtenstein, professor of history in the College of Arts and Sciences, initiated Cole's visit to IU Bloomington as a Branigin lecturer.

"Janie Cole's oral histories and documentary film recover the sounds of resistance; they represent one of the most promising initiatives to preserve the legacy and living history of the anti-apartheid struggle," Lichtenstein said. "Few historical archival projects in South Africa have been so attentive to securing memories from so many different voices."

Cole is a visiting professor at the University of Cape Town's Center for African Studies and the South African College of Music. She is the founder and executive director of Music Beyond Borders, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study of contemporary music history related to crimes against humanity, sociopolitical conditions of repression, violence, protest and freedom. She is also a research fellow on "Re-Centering AfroAsia: Musical and Human Migrations in the Pre-Colonial Period 700–1500 AD," a Mellon Foundation-funded project based at the University of Cape Town that seeks to increase scholarship on pre-colonial South Africa and move beyond colonial and Eurocentric biases in existing scholarship.

"The work that Janie Cole is doing with public musicology is a welcome reminder that sound is a crucial dimension of class conflict and revolutions," said Zanovello. "It is exciting to see scholarship so rigorous and so apt at documenting the impact of music on people's lives during such dramatic historical events."

In addition to her work on music of the anti-apartheid struggle, Cole specializes in Italian and French music, literature, opera and cultural history of the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods. She holds a joint doctoral degree in music and Italian from the University of London.

The Branigin Lecture series, which began in 1993, is supported by an endowment from the estate of IU Bloomington alumna Gene Lois Portteus Branigin. The series brings prominent scholars, artists and public figures to the Bloomington campus to interact with faculty, students and community members.

Cole's lecture will be the second addressing the 2016-17 Branigin Lecture theme of social justice. Cole follows Cynthia Enloe, who spoke in fall 2016 on "The Geopolitics of Your Bathtub: Why Who Does Your Housework Matters."

Cole has received fellowships from the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti, the Newberry Library and the Medici Archive Project. She has been awarded research grants from the Getty Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust and the Italian Cultural Institute. She has also received the Stephen Arlen Award from English National Opera and the Janet Levy Prize from the American Musicological Society.

In addition to her Branigin Lecture, Cole will give three public talks:

  • A discussion of "Keeping Time: The Story of Music in the Apartheid Jails: Survivor Testimony, Activism and Performance in Documentary Film"; 4 to 6 p.m. Feb. 9; Moving Image Archive Screening Room (Room 048) at the Wells Library.
  • "'You Strike the Women, You Strike a Rock': Women, Music and Activism in the Anti-Apartheid Struggle and Female Prisons"; 10:30 a.m. to noon Feb. 10; Global and International Studies Building, Room 1100.
  • "Music, Race, Incarceration and Survivor Testimonies from Apartheid South Africa: Oral History as Activism, Heritage Preservation and Identity"; 3 to 4:30 p.m. Feb 10, Ballantine Hall, Room 141.

Cole's visit is co-sponsored by the African Studies Program, Black Film Center/Archive, Center for Documentary Research and Practice, Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society, Jacobs School of Music, Office of the Vice President for International Affairs and the Departments of Anthropology, Folklore and Ethnomusicology, and History.

The lecture will be livestreamed by IU Music Live! and will be available on the Institute for Advanced Study website.

For more information, visit the Institute for Advanced Study website or contact

Related Links

Media Contacts

Kristina  Downs

Communications and projects manager

  • Institute for Advanced Study
  • Office 812-855-1513