Christopher McGuinness (The Graduate Center of the City University of New York): Technologies of the Intermundane in South Asian Performing Arts.

Öffentlicher Vortrag im Rahmen des Forschungskolloquiums Ethnologie

Datum: 25. Oktober 2022
Zeit: 16.15 Uhr bis 18.00 Uhr
Ort: Universität Luzern, Raum 4.B02

The intermundane refers to "arrangements of interpenetration between worlds of living and dead" (Stanyek and Piekut 2010). It is a conceptual lens for understanding how the dead posthumously produce capital and also for understanding how the living generate value from deceased entities. Considering the great variety of South Asian performing arts which invoke, memorialize, or appropriate the dead, this colloquium describes ways that audio technologies and creative practices play key roles in how, through music and sound, death mediates life.

I present two ethnographic case studies conducted between 2015-21. I first examine martyr songs in Telangana, India which construct the fallen as heroes to advance the interests of social movement organizations. I explain how songs about the dead not only disseminate ideology, but also are embodied by social movement actors to cultivate emotions and reinforce a teleological framework around death. Second, I trace the history of Sohan Lal, an Indian-Punjabi singer whose voice was sampled in numerous popular songs yet has gone largely unrecognized. I show how audio technologies and the distribution of samples can lead to legal and aesthetic decisions which erase identities of deceased musicians and reinforce social hierarchies. At the same time, the deceased retain agencies, as sampling practices have been shaped not only by Lal's voice, but also by kafi texts authored by 17th-century poet Bulleh Shah. This colloquium contributes to scholarship on Telangana, Punjab, social movements, and popular music.

Chris McGuinness is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and is writing his dissertation on electronic music production in India. He has authored publications on protest music in India and music production in Mumbai. Chris received a B.S. in mathematics from The City College of New York, was a 2019-20 American Institute of Indian Studies fellow, and has extensive experience in South Asia as a music producer and DJ.