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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music After Fukushima
- Noriko Manabe (Associate Professor of Music Studies at Temple University, Philadelphia, USA)
Nuclear power has been a contentious issue in Japan since the 1950s, and in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, the conflict has only grown. Government agencies and the nuclear industry continue to push a nuclear agenda, while the mainstream media adheres to the official line that nuclear power is Japan’s future. Public debate about nuclear energy is strongly discouraged. Nevertheless, antinuclear activism has swelled into one of the most popular and passionate movements in Japan, leading to a powerful wave of protest music.
In this talk Noriko Manabe will discuss these issues, which are the subject of her new book (the first book on Japan’s antinuclear music), The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, which provides a compelling new perspective on the role of music in political movements.
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music After Fukushima shows that music played a central role in expressing antinuclear sentiments and mobilizing political resistance in Japan. Combining musical analysis with ethnographic participation, Professor Manabe offers an innovative typology of the spaces central to the performance of protest music–cyberspace, demonstrations, festivals, and recordings. She argues that these four spaces encourage different modes of participation and methods of political messaging. The openness, mobile accessibility, and potential anonymity of cyberspace have allowed musicians to directly challenge the ethos of silence that permeated Japanese culture post-Fukushima. Moving from cyberspace to real space, Professor Manabe shows how the performance and reception of music played at public demonstrations are shaped by the urban geographies of Japanese cities. While short on open public space, urban centers in Japan offer protesters a wide range of governmental and commercial spaces in which to demonstrate, with activist musicians tailoring their performances to the particular landscapes and soundscapes of each. Music festivals are a space apart from everyday life, encouraging musicians and audience members to freely engage in political expression through informative and immersive performances. Conversely, Japanese record companies and producers discourage major-label musicians from expressing political views in recordings, forcing antinuclear musicians to express dissent indirectly: through allegories, metaphors, and metonyms.
Associate Professor of Music Studies at Temple University, Philadelphia, USA
Noriko Manabe is associate professor of music studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. Her articles on Japanese rap, DJs, social movements, children’s songs, online media, and the music business appear in Ethnomusicology, Asian Music, Popular Music, Asia-Pacific Journal, Cambridge Companion to Hip-Hop, The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Musical Cultures, The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music, and other publications. She is writing a second monograph, Revolution Remixed: Intertextuality in Protest Songs (Oxford, under contract), co-editing The Oxford Handbook of Protest Music (with Eric Drott) and Sonic Contestations of Nuclear Power (with Jessica Schwartz), and serving as series editor for 33-1/3 Japan, a new book series on Japanese popular music.