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The Nòva Cançon Occitana and the Internal Colonialism Thesis

Eric Drott

Keywords: OCCITANIE; REGIONALISM; MUSIC; INTERNAL COLONIALISM; NÒVA CANÇON; OCCITANA

This article examines the role played by the nòva cançon occitana (new Occitan song) in disseminating post-1968 regionalist ideologies, particularly the contention that Occitanie constituted an “internal colony” of France. While both the nòva cançon and the internal colonialism thesis proved instrumental in advancing the Occitanist cause, they also raised intractable problems. The depiction of Occitanie as a colonized territory consolidated a fragile sense of regional identity, but in so doing demanded that individuals repress the French dimensions of their identity. In addition, nòva cançon performers did not simply convey regionalist ideals through music, but were compelled to embody these ideals in their behavior, ideological stance, and self-presentation. To illuminate such tensions, the article considerers the controversy triggered when one Occitan singer-songwriter, Joan Pau Verdier, signed with an international label, thereby opening himself up to charges of having betrayed the Occitanist cause.

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