Keep Calm talk at Kent – 4:30.21.10.10

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Keep Calm and Carry On:
Low Level Anxiety in World War Three London
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- John Hutnyk
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Video provocation – we will watch Sri Lankan Tamil rapper Mathangi Arulpragasam’s recent Romain Gavras-made video promo for her track ‘Born Free’ from the new album /\/\/\Y/\ – so as to discuss the way stereotypes that are knocked down just get up again. We can then consider the efforts, and difficulties, that have occupied South Asian musicians, writers, filmmakers and commentators in the context of the permanent repetition of an ideological “terror” that has to be called World War Three. The talk surveys some of the absurd and worrying scrapes South Asian musicians have gotten themselves into under the new civil (un)liberties environment of the contemporary city.
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Consideration of transliteration and repetitions in music – from Edgard Varese’s (mis)understanding of Hinduism, through Adorno and Twelve Tone, the work of Zappa, South Asian Hip Hop, up to Slavoj Žižek’s appreciation of Freudian witticisms – can set the political context of the track in relief. In the video the reference is to immigration crack-downs in the USA; on the album the association is with Sri Lankan army execution of Tamils. Can we think music (musicology, hip hop scholarship, pop) without addressing a wider syncopation? The predicament of Samina Malik, the UK’s ‘lyrical terrorist’, arrested in 2007, will also be noted.
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Venue: Corwallis North East bldg, University of Kent – 4:30-6pm Thursday 21st October 2010
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