Loading…
This event has ended. Visit the official site or create your own event on Sched.
View analytic
Saturday, April 22 • 9:00am - 11:00am
What Is Politics?

Sign up or log in to save this to your schedule and see who's attending!

Feedback form is now closed.
Music and politics. These are both highly contested terms, difficult to define despite the fact that we use them constantly. To place them in relation to each other is to destabilize them even more, and to intensify the issues they raise. This panel interrogates the common-sense understandings of these keywords to locate the politics that inhabit hidden spaces, affective exchanges, aesthetics, postures, and embodiments. Beyond the notion that musical politics are something we know when we see them—or, rather, hear them, we are, following the movements and skeptics subcategory of the CFP, interested in amplifying politics beyond particular artists’ “strategic choices of mannerism, vocality, sound, and style.”

Much scholarly and fan concern with the union of music and politics is centered on social movements. The long Civil Rights Movement is the iconic example of the significance of music’s embrace of politics and politics’ return of that gesture. Photos of open-mouthed, arm-crossed, hand-holding singers like Bernice Johnson and Joan Baez focus the gaze of our cultural memory, representing for many misty-eyed hopes of popular music standing on the side of justice. These are the “Big-P” politics of civic transformation: politics at their most legible. But what of the “little-p” politics that determine how people relate to each other, their social worlds, their ecologies?

Here, we examine the cases in which the positive political effect of music is not so clear-cut; interrogating the assumption that song authorship is the primary space for political work, and emphasizing the fact that the intersection of music and politics is not always hopeful or good. Music has been used as an instrument of torture. Sometimes it sounds political stasis, against popular liberation.

Skepticism is not cynicism, however, and our roundtable embraces the positive critical aspect of that skepticism by asking foundational questions—What do we mean by politics? How do we recognize the presence of politics in music? Is it reducible to the songs sung in support of social movements? Must it refer to the music that inspires previously ignored or ridiculed peoples to stand up and proclaim the beauty and power of their identities, or the plaints that articulate the injustices of state policies or the destructions caused by warring states. Must the intersection of politics and music be based in identity categories? Must the political use of music always have a specific aim in mind? Might love songs have their political ramifications?

This roundtable will approach these questions with no firm answers in mind. Participants come from a series of backgrounds and approaches, from songwriting, to ethnography, to critical theory.

Moderators
avatar for Ali Colleen Neff

Ali Colleen Neff

Twitter | | Ali Colleen Neff is a media anthropologist, cultural theorist, and turntablist whose work arcs from her roots in the Bay Area creative community through her current, engaged ethnographic projects with young media practitioners throughout the Global South. Her project... Read More →
avatar for Barry Shank

Barry Shank

Twitter | | Barry Shank is professor and chair of the Department of Comparative Studies at Ohio State University. He is the author of Dissonant Identities: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Scene in Austin, Texas (1994), A Token of My Affection: Greeting Cards and American Business Culture (200... Read More →

Speakers
avatar for Christine Bacareza Balance

Christine Bacareza Balance

Christine Bacareza Balance (Associate Professor, Asian American Studies, UC Irvine) has written on Asian American YouTube artists, Bruno Mars, and Glee’s karaoke aesthetics. She is the author of Tropical Renditions: Making Musical Scenes in Filipino America (Duke University Press, 2016). Her next project, The Afterlives of Martial Law, investigates the sensational politics and fictions of dictatorship. She is one-eighth of the New York-based indie rock band The Jack Lords Orchestra and has been a ceaseless Pop Con fan since 2015. | | Roundtable: What is Politics? | Music and politics. These are both highly contested terms, difficult to define despite the fact that we use them constantly. To place them in relation to each other is to destabilize them even more, and to intensify the issues they raise. This panel interrogates the common-sense understandings of these keywords to locate the politics that inhabit hidden spaces, affective exchanges, aesthetics, postures, and embodiments. Beyond the notion that musical politics are something we know when we see... Read More →
avatar for Maria Elena Buszek 

Maria Elena Buszek 

Maria Elena Buszek is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Colorado Denver. Her recent publications include the books Pin-Up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture and Extra/Ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art, and contributions to the anthology Punkademics: The Basement Show in the Ivory Tower and exhibition catalog Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia. Her current book project explores the history of art/music hybrids since 1977. | | Roundtable: What is Politics? | Music and politics. These are both highly contested terms, difficult to define despite the fact that we use them constantly. To place them in relation to each other is to destabilize them even more, and to intensify the issues they raise. This panel interrogates the common-sense understandings of these keywords to locate the politics that inhabit hidden spaces, affective exchanges, aesthetics, postures, and embodiments. Beyond the notion that musical politics are something we know when we see... Read More →
avatar for Nadine Hubbs

Nadine Hubbs

Twitter | | Nadine Hubbs is a musicologist, gender-sexuality and class theorist, and cultural historian. Her writings have focused on the Copland-Thomson circle, 1970s disco, Springsteen, Morrissey, Radiohead, and in her latest book, on Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music. She is professor of... Read More →
avatar for Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr.

Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr.

Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. is the author of Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop, The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History and the Challenge of Bebop and African American Music: Grove Music Essentials (Kindle Edition). As the leader of the band Dr. Guy’s MusiQology, he has released three CDs (Y the Q, The Colored Waiting Room and B Eclectic) and is editor and founder of the blog musiqology.com... Read More →
avatar for Bettina Judd

Bettina Judd

Twitter | | Bettina Judd is an Assistant Professor of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington, and is an interdisciplinary writer, artist, and performer whose research focus is on Black women's creative production and our use of visual art, literature, and music to develop Black feminist thought. Her collection of poems on the history of medical experimentation on Black women titled Patient. won the 2013 Black Lawrence Press Hudson Book Prize. | | Roundtable: What is Politics? | Music and politics. These are both highly contested terms, difficult to define despite the fact that we use them constantly. To place them in relation to each other is to destabilize them even more, and to intensify the issues they raise. This panel interrogates the common-sense understandings of these keywords to locate the politics that inhabit hidden spaces, affective exchanges, aesthetics, postures, and embodiments. Beyond the notion that musical politics are something we know when we see... Read More →


Saturday April 22, 2017 9:00am - 11:00am
JBL Theater MoPOP, 325 5th Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98109