Songs of Refusal

Rekret, P. 2024. Songs of Refusal. Temporalities of Refusal. University of Newcastle 29 - 30 May 2024

TitleSongs of Refusal
AuthorsRekret, P.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

This paper brings theorisations of the refusal of work into dialogue with key figures in the Black radical tradition in order to conceive of song and musical practices as a refusal
of the discipline of the wage and capitalist control over labour. The idea of the refusal of work is mainly associated with the Italian Marxist journal Quaderni Rossi founded in 1961 by Antonio Negri, Mario Tronti and Raniero Panzieri, among others, who develop the notion of labour struggle as an originary force which capital can merely capture and subsume.
This is a framework later further extended by feminist scholars and activists to encompass struggles over unpaid domestic or reproductive labours gathered under the ideology of the family. But this notion of refusal tends to assert labour as an independent identity and so both reiterate the reductions of human activity upon which capitalist subsumption is premised as well as centre on the factional identities of (white) factory labourer and housewife.

Conversely, we can locate a distinct notion of refusal in accounts of aesthetic sociality as it is developed among key figures in the Black radical tradition, from Amiri Baraka to
Paul Gilroy, Sylvia Wynter, Stuart Hall and Fred Moten, among others. Here, what Wynter called “economic marginality”, exclusion from the full rewards of wage labour and the
protections of citizenship, is reconfigured as a potent liminality. Where social life is lived as unassimilable, marginality can become the site for resistive cultural forms and it is on this basis that this paper seeks to outline a view of song as a mediator of oppositions and struggles over the historical form of capitalist time.

Year2024
ConferenceTemporalities of Refusal
Publication dates
Published2024

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