Bo kyung Blenda Im
Global Korean Diasporas Postdoctoral Fellow, Korea Institute, Harvard University, 2021-22
Chaired by Nicholas Harkness, Modern Korean Economy and Society Professor of Anthropology; Director, Korea Institute, Harvard University
How might the critical study of Christianity engender new scholarly accounts of Korean popular music? And in what ways can such narratives prompt a reconsideration of the place and impact of Korean and Korean diasporic musicians in transpacific cultural production? While English-language studies of Korean popular culture have blossomed in recent years, secularist assumptions operative in defining the “popular” have rendered Korean/diasporic musical practices only selectively audible to academic audiences. In this talk I chart the interventions of Korean Christian artists who, in their work as vocalists and instrumentalists of black gospel and R&B, reconfigure genre boundaries historically organized along axes of race and religion. By analyzing the ways in which Korean Christian practitioners of black music genres negotiate the transnational music industry’s regulation of the sacred/secular binary, I clarify the extent to which the Euro-Western Enlightenment project continues to be implicated in the shaping of individual subjectivity and social relations. Furthermore, by highlighting how religion is constitutive of, rather than marginal to, transpacific cultural production, I generate an epistemic re-rendering of Korean/diasporic popular music studies that broadens the scope of the field.
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Generously supported by the Sunshik Min Endowment Fund for the Advancement of Korean Literature at the Korea Institute, Harvard University