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Playing for Change

Music Festivals as Community Learning and Development

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Michael B. MacDonald

Playing for Change – performing for money and for social justice – introduces a critical pedagogy of arts-based community learning and development (A-CLD), a new discipline wherein artists learn to become educators, social workers, and community economic development agents. Challenging the assumption that acculturation into a ruling ideology of state development is necessary, this book presents a version of CLD that locates development in the production of subjectivities. The author argues that A-CLD is as concerned with the autonomous collective and the individual as it is with establishing community infrastructure. As a result, a radical new theory is proposed to explain aesthetics within arts movements, beginning not by normalizing music cultures within global capitalism, but by identifying the creation of experimental assemblages as locations of cultural resistance. This book offers a new vocabulary of cultural production to provide a critical language for a theory of anti-capitalist subjectivity and for a new type of cultural worker involved with A-CLD. Drawing from a four-year study of thirteen music festivals, Playing for Change forwards A-CLD as a locally situated, joyful, and creative resistance to the globalizing forces of neoliberalism.
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Introduction

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The Rise of Predatory Anthropocene

“Predatory anthropocene” began a world war in the 1950s. There are no front lines, and parades will not make a difference. We are not fighting one particular thing, or even a group of people. It is a vast machine eating the Earth. It is not a thing separate from us. Predatory anthropocene is a collective subjectivity excreted during the expansions of global capitalism. It is, or rather, we are consuming the resources of the Earth, creating massive impacts on Earth systems, fueling and being fueled by fears and desires. Predatory anthropocene is creating misery all over the world. We see it every day in news footage of war, disease, hunger, and poverty. Too many of us see these things while sitting safely at home: wars against youth, against women, against indigenous people, against people of color, against the environment, against our hope for solidarity, and against collective imaginaries for a better future. Many experience the impact of these wars directly; many more are experiencing decreased quality of life, social cohesion, access to affordable child care and education, and income security, along with increased debt, anxiety about society, and concern about the future of our species. And while we know what is at stake, most of us have little idea what to do about it, how to play a role, how to take a ← vii | viii → stand against this thing. The thing must first be named, and I call it predatory anthropocene....

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