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A Clean Voice for an Advanced Nation: Singing in South Korean Christianity

Wednesday, March 28, 2012
12:00 AM
Room 1636 School of Social Work Building, 1080 South University
Nicholas Harkness, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University


This lecture focuses on the role of the voice in South Korean Christian culture. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Seoul’s Protestant churches and colleges of music, I explore the way European-style classical singing (songak) relates to certain idealized qualities of modern Christian personhood and national advancement. Among these Christians, it is claimed that the advanced nation is joyful, healthy, stable, and clean—and so should its voice be. I discuss both the aesthetics of sound as well as the ethics of bodily practice.