Re-Thinking Social Somatics: Perspectives on Music-Centred Community Somatics in South Africa
16:30 - 17:00
Using Bourdieu Pierre’s notion of ‘Habitus’ and Francis Nyamnjoh’s idea of ‘Conviviality’, I explore two music-centered community projects—which I term 'Community Somatics’—in South Africa as tools to rethink and broaden the understanding of somatic practices. Though the mainstream understanding of somatic practices has moved beyond the institutionalized canon (of experiential and sensorial learning) into broader educational, therapeutic, and artistic contexts, its framework is not sensitive to embodied oppression, the problematic history that reproduces social, economic and political crisis—which constantly shape the body and mind across the global south. I ask, how do we re-articulate somatic-informed practices as sensitive tools for social and political transformation beyond the frontiers of universities, classrooms, and practice studios? Responding to this question, I argue that due to its location in the ‘ivory towers’, the current understanding of somatics tends to reproduce the very conditions that it aims at mitigating. Therefore, like the South African cases, mediation of historically informed social inequality, economic and political crisis, trauma, and questions around embodied recovery and provisioning (especially in the post-pandemic contexts) require a ‘Community Somatics’ framework.
Oladele Ayorinde is a ‘THInK’ (Transforming the Humanities through Interdisciplinary Knowledge) Doctoral Fellow at the Wits School of Arts (WSOA), Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg South Africa. He is also a Research Fellow of the Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation (AOI), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa. Through the lens of music, Oladele is exploring the nexus between human agency and social transformation in contemporary Africa. His research interests include African popular culture and popular music; African musical connections with America, Asia and Europe; music, urban centres and cities; public cultures and globalization; artistic research in music; music and modernity; cultural policy and management in Africa; music documentation/archive; African festival cultures.