Michael Jackson—‘Billie Jean’


  • Martyn Wemyss Goldsmiths College, Anthropology


In the first few months of my fieldwork in Bolivia the death of Michael Jackson prompted a shift in the soundtrack to daily life: for a brief window his music was everywhere. In the weeks that followed, I witnessed two Michael Jackson impersonators perform, one outside a church and one outside a school in the days that followed. Here I set the encounters with these two Michaels within the sonic world I had previously experienced, and frame them as ‘stagings’: momentary performances where cosmopolitan figures and frames are brought into local performances. I recount other such stagings and suggest that Michael Jackson’s death made him available to be danced in different contexts in which the new Bolivian modernity is produced.

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How to Cite

Wemyss, M. (2019). Michael Jackson—‘Billie Jean’. Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, 43(2), 109–113. https://doi.org/10.30676/jfas.v43i2.78147