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Playing for Change

Music Festivals as Community Learning and Development


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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Guattari and Deleuze have provided a radical framework to theorize capitalism and aesthetics. It is no longer enough to think about the production of aesthetics and its impact on a unitary subject. They have shown that an analysis of the production of subjectivity within capitalism requires that we engage in a double analysis, that of social subjection (artist, folk singer, doctor, economist, entrepreneur, cultural worker) and machinic enslavement (folk, people, market, Hiphop Kulture, population, data set). Analysis of social subjectivity requires critical engagement with the types of subjects available for us and with which we construct (often temporary) individual identities. Their radical contribution, machinic enslavement, asks that we engage in another double analysis, of the pre-personal (pre-cognitive and pre-verbal) and the supra-personal (economic, political, aesthetic systems). Informed by these two sets of forces, linguistic and aesthetic signification is produced through the exchange of resources (paint, words, sounds, gestures, visualizations, currency) from which emerge individual and social formations. Capitalism captures these pre-personal and supra-personal forces for the task of production. You do not just work in a factory; you are a worker. You don’t just make hip-hop; you are a hiphoppa. In this way, the subject-body is put to work completely (body, identity, subject, subjectivity). Add to this the political, ← 139 | 140 → educational, juridical, and legal supra-systems that work to ensure the production of the proper subjectivity for the continuation of a functioning capitalist system. This provides a system view of critical constructivism and insight into discourse on social...

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