• William Fourie (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Spectres of resistance: reading the politics of dissensus in the work of Andile Khumalo

How might one understand the politics at work in South African composer Andile Khumalo’s (1978) music? Works such as Cry Out (2009), Shades of Words (2011), Bells Die Out (2013), and Schaufe[r]nster II (2014) can be counted as some of the only instances of spectral music in South Africa. Yet far from alienating himself, Khumalo uses extra- and intra-musical devices to situate his music within a local context. In this paper, I use this observation as a point of departure to argue that the politics of his music have to do with a double negation: it is music that radically opposes the field of neo-Romantic composition in South Africa, whilst simultaneously resisting participation in some of the central tenets of French and Romanian spectralism. The latter negation occurs due to the challenge Khumalo’s music—as music produced by an African listening subject—poses against claims made by commentators, such as Claude Ledoux, that spectral music holds a special affinity to the ‘occidental ear’.

To understand Khumalo’s double negation as a political move, I read his music as an act of what Jacques Rancière calls ‘political subjectivisation’. This term describes how a political being occupies the gap between the oppressor and the oppressed by feigning the equality afforded to the former and rejecting the subjection imposed on the latter. In reading his music through this lens, I hope to break the scholarly silence on Khumalo’s work by suggesting that his music can productively broach questions of bio-politics and marginality in the spectral music discourse.
Period16 Mar 2017
Event typeConference
LocationOxfordShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational