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Keywords:

  • music;
  • social media;
  • cultural action

Abstract

The disasters of 3/11 provoked a global outpouring of emotion towards the suffering in Japan. In many ways, this singular event seemed to refigure the meanings of community and technology by drawing attention to the fragility of human control in times of disaster. Although the long-term consequences remain uncertain, this radical recontextualization of value points to a way of thinking about broader processes of change, a contrast to cultural analysis that proceeds by directly critiquing structures of power on their own terms. If we look to processes whereby a new context can be the impetus that undermines seemingly entrenched interests, we might find inspiration for alternative forms of critique and action. Music provides a model for cultural movements that do not attack power directly, but rather operate through this kind of slippery, insidious, “end-around” strategy of change that gains its force from recontextualizing social logics. These features of music foreshadow some of the contemporary developments in social media, and may point to untapped potentials for subverting, and possibly transforming, enduring structures of power and inequality.