G S T Logo

Theorizing musical politics through case studies: Feminist grooves against the Temer Government in today’s Brazil

Kjetil Klette Bøhler


Inspired by Karen Barad’s theoretical developments within the field of “post-humanist performativity” and Martha Nussbaum’s work on “political emotions” alongside Herder’s notion of “empirical aesthetics” this article proposes the concept of musical politics to examine how the aesthetic power of musical sound expresses politics in specific contexts. The concept of musical politics encompasses the ways in which musical sounds and bodies interact temporally to produce political expressions and communities. This is applied to a study of the performance of music at political protests against Michel Temer in Brazil, 2016, as part of the Fora Temer [Out with Temer] movement. Combining ethnographic and musical analysis of three protest events, the author illustrates how the performance of music helps to constitute a temporary public space of political critique and feminist emancipation. Reading the data through the lens of musical politics draws attention to the ways in which specific organizations of musical soundings in time (for example, the shape of a rhythm or melody) contribute to the making of social spaces in which politics and aesthetics intersect temporally. The study also illustrates the ability of music to extend political viewpoints during the commotion and chaos of a large protest, thus adding durability to political street protests.


post-humanist performativity; political emotions; empirical aesthetics; musical politics; political protest; Brazil

Full Text: