The Music Making History Research Unit Sapienza University of Rome aims to study and teach Contemporary History outside US using African-American music as an agent that directly affects European and  Mediterranean history, accelerating social, political, economic processes and transformations.  MMH introduces Jazz and Rock and Roll music as essential clues and perspectives for the studying and the understanding of 20th century political and social history.  Its program aims to help students understand the socio-political impact, and all the complexity of the arrival of the African-American culture in post WWII Europe, along with Rock and Roll music.

MMH was founded in 2015 by Marilisa Merolla - Associate Professor in Contemporary History - at the Department of Social and Economic Sciences, Faculty of Political Science, Sociology, Communication of Sapienza University and co-operates with several Universities and teaching facilities throughout Europe (The Centre d'Histoire Culturelle des Sociétés Contemporaines of the Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines University in France, the Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan in Poland, the Aveiro University in Portugal, the Vallodolid University in Spain), and throughout the US too (NYU, Monmouth University).

On June 19 2017, the Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum (, Prof. Robert Santelli, gives to Music Making History Research Unit Sapienza University of Rome the GRAMMY Museum Affiliate Status


The Music Making History Research Unit Sapienza University of Rome aims to challenge the studying and the teaching of political and social processes using “sound” as a historical source. In the “Jazz Scene”, the historian Eric J. Hobsbawm recognizes Jazz music as a cultural phenomenon which plays an essential role for the understanding of the 20th century. Not surprisingly, WWI and WWII can be identified as crucial events in the global diffusion of jazz music. Starting from the post WWI crisis, when Jazz music played in Europe a very complex role. From this perspective, the MMH program has its main focus on the social and political impact of Rock and Roll music in the European and Mediterranean landscape in the political context of the Cold war era, when African-American music was commissioned by the US Department of State as a propaganda instrument to contrast abroad the perception of the United States as a racist society.  But, of course, Rock and roll spread indeed the seeds of the B-side of America, "the dark side" of the American way of life, as well as the first seeds of the civil rights.  


Marilisa Merolla of Sapienza University of Rome (founder and director) Ashley Kahn of New York University, Anaïs Flechét of the Centre d'Histoire Culturelle des Sociétés Contemporaines Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines University, Pedro Cravinho of Aveiro University, Chris Korten of Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan, Luigi Onori, Paolo Fresu, Renzo Arbore, Harold Bradley, Jessica Pratt.


  • Affiliation Ceremony with the GRAMMY Museum and Lecture by Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum, Robert Santelli, “The Globalization of American Music in the Twentieth Century” ( June 19, 2017).
  • "Pop, Criticism and the Cold War" with the participation of Ashley Kahn ( May 13-16, 2016).
  • “Rock, Music Diplomacy, Intelligence during the Cold War” with the participation of Michele Bovi (December 10, 2015).
  • 50 years of the former Italian Radio Broadcast “Bandiera Gialla” with the participation of Renzo Arbore and Gianni  Boncompagni (October 22, 2015).
  • 30 years of the TV-Show “Quelli della notte” with the participation of Renzo Arbore (May 11, 2015).
  • "American Propaganda and the modernisation of an Europe changing to the rhythm of Jazz” with the participation of Pedro Cravinho and in collaboration with Aveiro University  and Valladolid University ( May 13-15, 2014).
  •  "What’s going on. Rock, race and politics” with the participation of Alberto Castelli (April 22, 2013).
  • "Mondo Exotica: Sounds, Visions, Obsessions of the Cocktail Generation” with the participation of Francesco Adinollfi (May 28, 2012).
  • The Sound of the Sixties in Rome, with the participation of Renzo Arbore, Luigi Onori, Harold Bradley, Dario Salvatori (June 19-24, 2010).
  • “Radio and Television in the Italian  80’s: Raistereonotte and Mister Fantasy” with the participation of Pierluigi Tabasso, Fabrizio Stramacci, Ernesto De Pascale , Carlo Massarini e Paolo Giaccio (18-25 January, 2010).

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