We are pleased to announce that the first Performance Studies Faculty Colloquium will be given by Asst. Professor Jim Ball on October 28 at 3:30 in the conference room:
Title: Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Politics of Participation
Abstract: Calling for global public participation in the International Day of Happiness in March 2015, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invoked the power of “the universal language of music to show solidarity” with suffering communities the world over. Technologically savvy global citizens were offered the opportunity to forge such connections by nominating popular songs to be included on a playlist streamed online. As a virtual mix-tape, the event implicitly gestured at the forms of physical participation through which music (especially popular genres) can render individuals part of a collective as auditors clap or dance along with rhythms and melodies. Eschewing the physical, the UN’s #happysoundslike campaign risks reproducing the forms of social alienation that the International Day of Happiness purports to combat. However, Ban’s own encounters with live popular music suggest the contested participatory spaces that emerge when musicians enter into the charged political spaces of international institutions. Whether he is dancing Gangnam Style with Korean pop star PSY or clapping along to a Serbian nationalist march sung by Belgrade’s Viva Vox Choir, Ban’s physical participation has often had effects opposite to the fostering of solidarity, producing feelings of revulsion and unease in on-lookers near and far. In the latter case, especially, Ban’s participation precipitated a global diplomatic dispute regarding the relationship between music, reconciliation, and history in the Balkans. This paper critiques the optimistic assumptions that often undergird the UN’s deployment of popular music to perpetuate peace by tracing the uncertain embodied practices that emerge from the live performance of popular music in diplomatic settings.
All are welcome, and presenters are encouraged to invite colleagues from other departments.