Luis-Manuel Garcia, 12 October 2017

Title of the Talk: The Call: Interpellation and the Ethical Turn in Electronic Dance Music

When? 12 October 2017 (Week 1) (17:00-18:30)

Where?  The Barn at St John’s College (Kendrew Quad)

Speaker: Luis-Manuel Garcia (University of Birmingham)

Abstract: Recently, electronic dance music (EDM) discourse in cities around the globe has shown an increasing interest in rediscovering the genre’s roots in subaltern communities. Prompted by the contemporary “EDM boom” and concomitant worries about historical “whitewashing,” this trend is most visible in the proliferation of revisionist-historical articles, polemics, “thinkpieces,” and oral histories published in EDM media. This discursive shift coincides with a period of increasing political polarization, which has re-politicized dancefloors by making explicit the affinities and aspirations already implicit in these nightlife worlds. These conditions have given rise to an “ethical turn” in EDM discourse and practice, which has taken a markedly activist form in Berlin. This paper tracks the “call to ethical action” in that city, attending to the various forms it takes as nightlife organizers summon dancer-listeners to political engagement. Such appeals manifest as musical invocations, sonic conjurations, verbal appellations, and visual demonstrations. Althusser’s notion of “interpellation” highlights the coercive ideological force of the call as well as its impact on subjectivity. In Berlin’s EDM scenes, such calls often oscillate between a “call out,” addressing listeners as complacent or complicit with hegemony, and a “call on,” hailing them as the politically progressive, “woke” subjects that many of them imagine themselves to be. Importantly, these calls are usually intended for the same audiences, using negative/confrontational language to shake them awake and then positive/encouraging language to channel their energies towards concrete political action. This paper provides an account of this emerging appellative practice, which seeks to reshape audiences by hailing them as political subjects.

Speaker Biography: Luis-Manuel Garcia is a Lecturer in Ethnomusicology and Popular Music Studies at the University of Birmingham, with previous appointments at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development  (Berlin) and the University of Groningen (Netherlands). His research focuses on urban electronic dance music scenes, with a particular focus on affect, intimacy, stranger-sociability, embodiment, sexuality, creative industries and musical migration. He is currently conducting a research project on ‘techno-tourism’ in Berlin while preparing a book manuscript, Together Somehow: Music, Affect, and Intimacy on the Dancefloor.

Event hosted as part of the Seminar in Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies Series, based at St John’s College, University of Oxford.


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