Popular Musicking and the Politics of Spectatorship at the United Nations
James R. Ball III critiques the optimistic assumptions that often undergird the United Nations' deployment of popular music to perpetuate peace by tracing the uncertain embodied practices of spectators at concerts of popular music in diplomatic settings. Calling for global public participation in the International Day of Happiness in March 2015, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invoked the power of »the universal language of music to show solidarity« with suffering communities the world over. However, Ban's own encounters with live popular music suggest the contested participatory spaces that emerge when musicians enter into the charged political spaces of international institutions. Clapping along to a Serbian nationalist march sung by Belgrade's Viva Vox Choir two years earlier, Ban had offended other audiences at greater distances. Drawing on theories of affect, abjection, and spectatorship, and combining auto-ethnography with performance analysis, Ball's chapter reveals the dynamic spaces in which institutions and their audiences can press on one another in performance.