Claiming sounds, constructing selves : the racial and social imaginaries of South African popular music.
This thesis explores some of the ways in which listening to South African popular music allows individuals to enter into imaginative engagements with others in South Africa, and in so doing, negotiate their place in the social landscape. Taking as its starting point the notion of the "musical imaginary" - the web of connotational meanings arising out of the interaction between music and society, rendering it a particularly suitable medium through which to imagine social actors - it focuses specifically on the role of music in constructions of 'race' and, to a lesser extent, of 'nation'. It examines some of the ways in which dominant discourses exert pressure on what is imagined, as well as highlighting the creativity of listeners who appropriate the musical imaginary for their own ends of identification. It attempts to depict the complexity of musical identification in postapartheid South Africa, in which individuals must negotiate multiple boundaries marking difference, including categories of 'race', ethnicity, gender and class. It also investigates perceptions of the role of music in generating new identities and modes of social interaction, and offers some speculations as to how an analysis of these perceptions may contribute to current theoretical models of change in multicultural societies.
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