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Online talk: Music for Healing — BTS, radical love and becoming other

An interesting talk coming up this week:

Music for Healing: BTS, radical love and becoming other

Speaker: Dr Colette Balmain, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication, Kingston University
Research series: ArCC (School of Arts, Culture and Communication) research seminar series organised by Visconti Studio.
Mode: Online via Microsoft teams. Email c.balmain at for link.
Date: Wednesday 9 June at 4 pm



In a recent OP-ED for the Los Angeles Times, ‘Society’s never been more polarized. How storytellers could help heal our divides’, Kevin Dutton argues that telling and listening to stories is the only way to overcome and heal the deep, thick, divisions of our contemporary world. Moreover, he contends that these storytellers will be “the novelists, filmmakers, musicians and other artists whose work has the ability to sculpt the truth” (2021, May 16th).

Arguably the biggest band in the world, BTS is noted for the diversity of their fanbase across countries and cultures as well as ideological divides. In 2017, BTS and Big Hit Entertainment went into partnership with UNICEF with the #ENDViolence and #LoveMyself campaign: a campaign aimed at children and young people affected by violence, and recently they renewed this commitment through to 2022. A recent example of the importance of #ENDViolence is the killing of over 60 children in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in just under a week.

In Logic of Sense, Deleuze argues that music, as other art forms, “permit[s] several stories to be told at once” (p. 260). Bringing together bell hook’s work on radical love, Deleuze’s writings on music and Christopher Small’s concept of musicking, this paper explores BTS’s commitment to “music for healing” and examines how music’s specifity allows becomings across and between cultures not restricted to linguistic indexicality unlike film or literature. Radical love exists outside of the logic of domination and privileges the voices of the oppressed and the marginalised. I argue that BTS enact a pedagogy of radical love through their lyrics, their words, their music, and their performances, as embodied through the notion of “music for healing”.


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