Accepted Paper:

The politics of embodied aesthetics: Kwaito and house music in South Africa  
Tuulikki Pietilä (University of Helsinki)

Paper long abstract:

The most popular youth music styles in the post-apartheid South Africa, kwaito and house, have aroused concern in many academic and non-academic commentators. These musical genres are seen to signal the increasingly hedonistic and consumption-oriented lifestyles, and hence a socio-moral crisis, among the black youth especially. The youth's apparent focus on stylising the self and the body is regarded as a backlash to the politically cognisant ethos of the past decades. I will problematise these views by exploring the connections that the present styles create with the local histories, on the one hand, and the global styles, on the other. I will argue that kwaito and house are part of the wider process of seeking and forging new kinds of social subjectivities in the post-apartheid society. Therefore, in this context, the explicit emphasis on the aesthetic and embodied aspects of the music does not exclude its political implications.

Panel W020
Crises, imagination, and beyond: bringing aesthetics back into the anthropology of (popular) music