Bodysuits and biodomes

The construction of the sonochronotopia on Johannesburg's South Korean ethnoscape

Jay Schutte

The aestheticization of space through sound as a mode of negotiating disjuncture is an under-researched phenomenon. In this paper I will discuss such processes as a means through which certain members of Johannesburg's Korean expatriate community anaesthetize themselves in response to a disjuncture between experiences of South Korean and South African space and temporality. During fieldwork conducted between 2006 and 2009, I found that many of these community members regarded Johannesburg, and 'Africa' as an amorphous category, as a space that signified hostile alterity. The use of sound - specifically mediated through the iPod - appeared to be one way in which this experience of trauma could be negated. I explore in this article the ways in which spatiotemporal construction through music plays a facilitating role in alleviating this perceived trauma. In circumscribing this process I have found the work of Susan Buck-Morss and Mikhail Bakhtin useful in approaching the overlapping 'symbolic' and 'material' discourses at play in this research context. Specifically, Bakhtin's formation of the chronotope, ethnographically interpreted via the lens of metapragmatics serves as a constructive theoretical starting point through which to analyse the Anaesthetic-Aesthetic critique of 'modernity' Buck-Morss argues for.

Journal South African Music Studies
Year 2012
Volume 32
Pages 59-76

Schutte, Jay (2012) Bodysuits and biodomes: The construction of the sonochronotopia on Johannesburg's South Korean ethnoscape. In: South African Music Studies, Vol. 32, pp. 59-76. Available at


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