Events

Music, Culture and Transformation

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A two-day series of events including live music (2/26) and panel discussions (2/26 & 2/27) organized by MIT/Harvard Cool Japan

Schedule:
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Music Culture and Transformation (Part 1)
3:00-5:00 PM - MIT Room E25-111
Artist Talk + Panel on Fukushima Activism, Postwar Pop, Intermedia Art and Global Hip-Hop
Conversation with Zeebra (Japanese hip-hop emcee) and Ian Condry, followed by presentations:

  • Zeebra (Japanese hip-hop emcee)
  • Zeebra began his hip hop career in 1993, joining the rap group King Giddra. Zeebra and King Giddra played an important role in the development of the Japanese hip hop scene. In the mid 1990s, they began addressing social issues, particularly the economic recession and unemployment. By 1997 Zeebra left King Gridda to start a solo career. He released the single "Mr. Dynamite" in 1999, which became the first hip-hop single to make it into the top 50 on the Japanese pop charts. Through his early and newer work, Zeebra has becoame one of the most influential Japanese hip hop artists.
  • Marie Abe (BU) - "Sounding Against Nuclear Power in Post-Fukushima Japan"
  • Since the devastating M9.0 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent crises at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in northeast Japan on March 11, 2011, anti-nuclear power demonstrations have taken the streets of Tokyo and many other cities throughout Japan on an unprecedented level since the 1960s. Often leading the protests in Tokyo is the raucous sound of chindon-ya: Japanese musical advertisement practice. When the public display of merriment was discouraged in the name of national mourning, how did this erstwhile commercial practice become a sonic marker of the mass social movement against the government's energy policies and its much-criticized reactions to the disasters? This paper explores how the particular sounds of chindon-ya transposed from the commercial to the political, paying attention to the affective principles that inform chindon-ya performance in the time characterized by what Anne Allison calls the precarity of economic and social life in contemporary Japan.

    Marié Abe is an Assistant Professor of Music in the Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at Boston University. She holds an MA and a PhD in Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently a fellow at the Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College. She is currently working on a book manuscript on chindon-ya, a live musical advertisement practice in Japan.

  • Miki Kaneda (Harvard) - "Sonic Encounters Between Art and the Everyday in 1960s Japan"
  • Everyday sounds, spaces, and technologies drew many experimental musicians and artists in 1960s Japan as objects of artistic investigation. On the surface, the resulting performances and recordings appear to be absurd, or utterly nonsensical. However, by asking what it took to register the everyday in 1960s Japan, I argue that the "everyday" was hardly a neutral site. Rather, forays into the everyday were interventions—not just extensions—of ways of sensing and making sense of the rapidly changing material and social conditions during a volatile decade in postwar Japan.

    Bio (2-3 sentences) Miki Kaneda is Lecturer in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. She received her PhD in Music with a Designated Emphasis in New Media from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2012. Her forthcoming work, tentatively titled "The Unexpected Collectives: Intermedia Art in Postwar Japan," is an ethnographic and historical study of experimental musical and artistic practices in 1960s Japan. Between 2012 and 2013, she was founding co-editor of post.at.moma.org, MoMA's web platform for research and dialogue on modern and contemporary art across geographies.

  • Hiromu Nagahara (MIT) - "The Politics of Pop Music Before J-Pop"
  • The history of Japan's pop music industry can be traced as far back as the 1920s, when companies like Columbia and Victor came into Japan. From the outset, the songs they produced not only attracted avid fans but also drew strong, even violent, critiques for a wide range of contemporary observers. Why did these songs disturb so many people? This talk will point to several several songs from the prewar and the postwar era by way of highlighting key themes in the politics of pop music in twentieth Japan.

    Hiromu Nagahara is an Assistant Professor of History at MIT. He studies the history of modern Japan. His research interests include the history of media, popular culture, and censorship in the twentieth century. His forthcoming book sheds light on the society-wide controversies that were provoked by popular songs produced by Japan's music industry between the late 1920s and 1960s."

  • Murray Forman (NEU) - "Move the Planet: Post-National Hip-Hop Diaspora"
  • During the 1990s and early 2000s the term "hip-hop nation" acquired a certain resonance among young hip-hop aficionados. Yet even as the term was being cemented within a standard terminology, hip-hop was expanding at a staggering rate, acquiring global significance and distinct regional inflections. Today, the notion of a hip-hop nationseems prosaic and flawed, incapable of capturing the diversity of hip-hop expression on a global scale. In my discussion, I will critically reassess the concept of the hip-hop nation while exploring the ways in which trans-local flows of creativity, technological interaction, and human mobility provide the foundation for a cohesive, yet post-national hip-hop culture.

    Murray Forman is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Northeaster University. He is the author of The 'Hood Comes First: Race, Space and Place in Rap and Hip-Hop (Wesleyan University Press, 2002) and Co-editor (with Mark Anthony Neal) of That's the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (Routledge, 1st edition 2004; 2nd edition, 2011). His most recent book is One Night on TV is Worth Weeks at the Paramount: Popular Music on Early Television (Duke University Press, 2012).

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Live Hip-Hop from Tokyo feat. Zeebra & Miss Monday, plus local faves WTF
8:00 PM - Middlesex Lounge (315 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA)

  • 8:00 PM - WTF (Wallys Tuesday Funk, local funk jazz band)
  • 9:00 PM - Miss Monday (hip-hop emcee and reggae legend from Tokyo)
  • 10:00 PM - Guest DJ set by Zeebra (Tokyo-based emcee and international recording artist)
  • 11:00 PM - 1:00 AM - international dance party with DJ Ian C. and more . . .

 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

MIT Cool Japan / CMS Colloquium / Music, Culture and Transformation (Part 2)
5:00-7:00 PM, MIT Room E14-633

  • Meredith Schweig (MIT) - "Gender in Taiwanese Rap Music: Hope for the Future?"
  • In this presentation, Meredith Schweig explores the gender politics and practices of the Taiwan rap scene. Drawing on long-term fieldwork with the island's hip-hop community and invoking emergent scholarly discourses on East Asian and global masculinities, she argues that rap's identity as men's music renders it a productive site for exploring, unsettling, and transforming prevailing models of Taiwanese manhood. In the context of shifting gender roles driven by dramatic social, political, and economic change over the course of the last three decades in Taiwan, Schweig considers how rap has created new spaces for male sociality, avenues for male self-empowerment, and opportunities for the articulation of multiple masculine identities not otherwise audible in the island's popular music.

    Meredith Schweig is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at MIT. Her research explores twentieth- and twenty-first-century music of East Asia, with a particular emphasis on popular song, narrativity, and cultural politics in Taiwan and China. She has received fellowships and grants from the Asian Cultural Council, Whiting Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, and the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University.

  • Rebecca Dirksen (MIT) - "A Musical Model for Development? Haiti's Mizik Angaje Re-Imagined"
  • In Haiti from the colonial period to the present, music has been a critical means for public dialogue when other avenues have not been possible. Mizik angaje, literally, "engaged music," a genre-crossing expressive form featuring pointed lyrical commentary on political and social issues, has accompanied key moments in Haitian history, from the Haitian Revolution to the downfall of the Duvalier regime and subsequent rise of Aristide to power. Increasingly in recent years, mizik angaje has been re-imagined to reflect current realities: any understanding of this musical phenomenon must now go beyond examining how ordinary Haitian citizens use musical dialogue to critique infrastructural weaknesses and abuses of authority to demonstrating how a growing number of social groups employ music as an explicit and fundamental tool for strengthening their local communities. Independent of state or NGO support, these groups are tackling non-musical neighborhood concerns by promoting social programs that simultaneously entertain music-making and community service. This leads us to ask, what happens when Haitian musicians implicate themselves in the processes of development?

    Rebecca Dirksen, a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, completed her PhD in ethnomusicology at UCLA in 2012. Her primary research concerns music and grassroots development in Haiti before and after the 2010 earthquake. Concurrent projects revolve around creative responses to crisis and disaster, intangible cultural heritage protection, cultural policy, and Haitian classical music.

  • Moderated by Ian Condry (MIT)

Public reception with the panelists, light food and drink
7:00-8:00 PM, CMS headquarters

For more information, please visit http://cooljapan.mit.edu or contact fll-events@mit.edu