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Resisting Cultural Commodification: Maskanda Music as Discourse of Power in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap
Barbara Titus

October 16, 15:30-17:00
Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

In this talk I address ways in which South Africans manoeuvre between legacies of apartheid and opportunities to ‘tune in’ with the rest of the globe. These manoeuvres are played out in maskanda performance which is consumed as Zulu pop music in South African public spaces. Through the close reading of a specific musical event, the MTN Onkweni Royal Cultural Festival in Ulundi in October 2009, I reveal that seemingly totalizing impositions of power – in this case the commodification of Zulu culture by the Zulu royal house – can still lead to a diversity of musical framings, artistic self-conceptions, and social identifications. Responses to the event’s commodification, in the form of musical performance and verbal dialogue, function as a ‘lens’ enabling us to observe this diversity.