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Playing at/against power: Histories of Trauma and Abuse in South African Music-Pedagogical Spaces

The proposed project builds on some of my earlier work on music and violence, and is born of the politico-ethical imperative to break the silence surrounding structural violence and abuse in institutionalised spaces devoted to music pedagogy: the lecture room, the teaching studio, the community project. In counterpoint with institutionalized pedagogical spaces, this project will also look at the sonic democratization of informal public pedagogical spaces of musical encounter, such as the radio and other forms of media. This will allow me to theorise the growing rupture between everyday soundscapes with their pluriverses of sound and their constructions of South Africa as a modality of playing sonically against power, and those “sound-proof” spaces devoted to formal pedagogies as spaces that play with power through the perpetuation of structural violence. For the purposes of this project, abuse is to be understood broadly, as the physical, verbal, psychological or social operationalisation of unequal power relations which manifests as psychic, subjective and/or physical violence. One of the underlying premises is that any engagement with music and abuse should attend to intersections of race, class and gender, meaning that the lens throughout will be intersectional and attentive to apartheid and post-apartheid structures of feeling and thought. This project will document narratives of abuse in institutionalised music environments, “playing off” such spaces against democratized post-apartheid spaces of public and informal learning in and through sound.


Fellows involved in this project

Iso Lomso Fellow, Iso Lomso visiting scholar
South Africa

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