Journal of World Popular Music, Vol 6, No 2 (2019)

Keynote: Party Music, Affect and the Politics of Modernity

Jocelyne Guilbault
Issued Date: 23 Dec 2019


In “Affect Theory and the Empirical”, Danilyn Rutherford writes, “we need to think about power to understand affect”. She adds, “could it be that we also need to think about affect to understand the nature of power?” Based on this premise, this keynote paper, presented at the International Association for the Study of Popular Music XX Biennial Conference 2019, goes against the tendency to schematize and universalize emotions and affect. Instead, I argue for the need to address affect historically and ethnographically within the fields of power in which musical experience takes place. This article focuses on the 2017 Road March song, ‘Full Extreme’, the song that played almost 500 more times than its closer competitor at the judging points during Carnival Tuesday in Trinidad (West Indies). I examine this song as an event to reveal the various forces that are at play in foregrounding simultaneously a “collective effervescence” (Emile Durkheim’s expression) and the local tradition of calypso’s critical rhetoric. By exploring how it has galvanized massive support, I show how this song confronts what has been at the core of the exclusionist politics of modernity. I also call attention to what is called for not only to create mass appeal, but also to encourage public engagement and political debate in modern democracies.

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DOI: 10.1558/jwpm.40172


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