Kendra Van Nyhuis

Kendra Van Nyhuis is a Ph.D. candidate in Ethnomusicology at University of California Berkeley. Her dissertation interrogates the exchanges and collaborations of Korean and foreign musicians in the underground rock scene in Seoul. More specifically, her work examines networks, urban spaces, race, gender and labor associated with rock performance in a scene that is both locally and globally focused. Her fieldwork was funded by a Fulbright Junior Scholar research grant.

"Intersectional Identities and Success in the Rock Scene of South Korea"
As in many underground rock scenes, women are the minority of performers in Seoul. During my participant observation research on the intercultural interactions at performances with Korean and foreign musicians, I have been able to observe the ways that the intersectional identities of female performers in this cultural context create unique barriers to entry and success. This paper will examine the experiences of three representative female musicians in the Korean music scene to show that the intersections of race, gender, relationship status, and genre play a role in their ability to make the social connections necessary to be a successful performer. The first musician, a young, single Korean female, illustrates the issues with sexual harassment and assault that young women face, and how female musicians are assumed to be more sexually available. I will also explore the difficulties she has had as a solo songwriter trying to collaborate with male musicians. The second musician is a slightly older single white female, whose band became known for their feminist rhetoric and imagery that stemmed from issues of sexism she and her bandmates experienced in Korea. The way they put their feminist music into practice had mixed reactions in the scene. Finally, I will discuss the experiences of a female Korean musician married to a white American man, who is also a musician. The ways that her socializing changed, and the ways they didn’t, show the effect that relationship status has in shifting social relations in the scene. Her viewpoint on feminism and femininity are also colored by her association with the punk genre. Within each of these stories, I will also examine the differences in behaviors of foreign and Korean men, and the ways that the different overlapping identities of the people involved can shape the outcome of social interaction.