Timothy Taylor (3) Circulation, Value, and Exchange in the Movement of Music

Timothy Taylors third lecture, held at the Anthropology of Music Triple Lecture 2018, on June 29.

This presentation is an attempt to move beyond the common metaphor of “flows” to describe how music moves in an era commonly thought of as globalized. “Circulation” seems to be a term infrequent usage these days, referring to people as well as goods, an idea has along history going back to Marxist ideas about the movement of money and is still useful with respect to cultural goods such as music. Drawing on Marx and anthropologists who have studied value and exchange, this paper argues that things circulate because they have value, and circulation therefore manifests as constant exchanges – of time, money, goods, and more – that constantly (re)make social life and relations. Radio serves as a case study in this paper,especially as it plays an important role in the indie rock scene in southern California. Returning to classic theories of the audience as commodity from Dallas Smythe, which are still useful if released from a strict Marxian framework into broader conceptualizations of value, I argue that Smythe’s conception is predicated in the idea of exchange, and that Smythe’s insights can be extended and updated from radio and other broadcast media to the circulation of digital media today.

Timothy Tayolor (2) Musical Performance as a Medium of Value

Timothy Taylor’s second lecture, held at the Anthropology of Music Triple Lecture 2018, on June 28.

This presentation is an attempt to theorize musical performance as a medium of value. Drawing on anthropological theories of value, mainly from Terence Turner and David Graeber, this paper argues that musical performances, and those that are caught up in broader contexts such as festivals, rituals, or ceremonies, play important roles in realizing,consummating, establishing, or reinforcing values held by those communities that engage in such performances. I define performance as something that takes place with an audience and that is something that is culturally and socially understood as a performance. Value is built up privately in preparations for performances, but is only realized or consummated in the moment of performance with the presence and interaction of audience members.

Timothy Taylor (1) Capitalist and Paracapitalist Value of Cultural Goods

Timothy Taylor’s first lecture, held at the Anthropology of Music Triple Lecture 2018, on June 27.

It is usually assumed that practices and ideological structures such as flamboyance and showmanship in performance, or the attitude held by artists characterized by Bourdieu as “the economic world reversed,” or various conceptions of authenticity, are epiphenomenal, distinct from either the aesthetic value or the economic value of cultural goods. Drawing on David Harvey’s claim that capitalism disciplines other forms of the production of value, this presentation asserts that such ideological structures are in fact disguised and stockpiled forms of capitalist value. The argument is that one of the ways that capitalism operates, at least in the realm of cultural goods, is by disciplining, or creating, forms of value that exist alongside it; they are forms of value that might be culturally viewed as something other than capitalist forms, but actually are disguised and stored forms of capitalist value that I call “paracapitalist.” Three case studies help make this argument: the rise of the virtuoso in western Europe in the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries as a new social personality; the history of provenance in the visual arts; and the process of designating a local cultural practice as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO.