SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

Project Fukushima! Improvising Musical Politics in Post-3.11 Japan

Fukushima Music Photo
David Novak

Date: 19 March 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 19 March 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B211

Type of Event: Talk

Jointly organised with the SOAS Department of Music


This talk describes the political performances of the annual Project Fukushima! festival that, each summer since the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster on 3/11/11, has brought thousands to sing, dance, and make music in Fukushima City. Why celebrate Fukushima in the midst of a meltdown? I argue that performance has taken on a vital critical dimension in contemporary public protest movements in post-3/11 Japan. But while music and dance— particularly in local festivals that are integrated into social activism —have become  expedient ways to critique technocultural capitalism and its silencing of regional populations, the performativity of festival does not necessarily constitute public dialogue. Rather, it makes audible the dissonance of diverse political assemblies, who respond with ambivalence to demands to speak with a singular voice. I examine the ways in which these new performative assemblies reframe narratives of national disaster and displacement to describe Japan's emergent interdependences within a global politics of survival. 

Speaker Biography

David Novak is Associate Professor of Music at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and co-director of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Music. He is author of the award-winning Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation (2013) and co-editor of Keywords in Sound (2015), as well as recent essays in Public Culture, Cultural Anthropology, Popular Music, Sensory Studies, and The Wire.

Organiser: Dr Alan Cummings & Dr Rachel Harris