Nicholas Harkness

A Clean Voice for an Advanced Nation:

Singing in South Korean Christianity


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This lecture focuses on the role of the voice in South Korean Christian culture. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Seoul’s Protestant churches and colleges of music, Harkness explores the way European-style classical singing (songak) relates to certain idealized qualities of modern Christian personhood and national advancement. Among these Christians, it is claimed that the advanced nation is joyful, healthy, stable, and clean—and so should its voice be. Harkness discusses both the aesthetics of sound as well as the ethics of bodily practice.