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Cosmopolitanism World Music

Cosmopolitanism World Music

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Published by Adnrea Ancira

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Published by: Adnrea Ancira on Apr 21, 2011
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07/27/2011

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Andrea Ancira GarcíaResearch Master Cultural AnalysisDr. Joost de Bloois & Dr. Sophie BerrebiObjects for Cultural Analysis
Cosmopolitanism: What
we
talk about when
we
talk about
World Music
IAs many other forms of classification, musical genres describe and group music.Through genre, people tend to describe what a certain musical item shares with others andalso what differentiates it. In fact, musical genre has become the most popular musicdescriptor in the context of large musical databases and electronic music distribution(Aucouturier, 2003: 1). The object of this paper is the category “world music”. Althoughmusic genres such as jazz, rock, hip-hop normally describe musical features of the work of a band or a specific song (tempo, pitch and rhythm); the main feature that recordings groupedunder this category seem to share is their politics of representation (Feld, 2000: 148).Regardless of its musical characteristics, most non-western popular music has been lumpedinto the general category of “world music”. What is the desire on my part to make its politicsof representation intelligible? Why make a close reading of a music genre?World Music is not only an explicit example of the cultural arena in which unequal power relations are embedded but also in which I found the possibility to explore the politicsand ethics of music. In this essay I address the significance of “world music” through theconcept of cosmopolitanism. As many theorists have noted, World Music has increasingly been used as a vehicle for the cosmopolitan project (Roberts, 2008). However, as I willfurther explain in this essay, while initially it served as a catalyst for mobilization aroundtransnational political issues, the commercialization of global music has made this music amass-cultural phenomenon that raises problems of cultural, economic and ethical politicssymptomatic of larger processes within the global cultural economy.
 
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IICosmopolitanism is generally associated to the consciousness of being a citizen of theworld and of finding ways of social, economic and political conviviality
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. This idea has along theoretical lineage stretching back through the Greek Stoicism (Zenon), ChristianTheology (St. Paul), Kantian critical theory and on to present day articulations of globaldemocracy (Archibugi & Held, 1995). According to Roberts (2008), cosmopolitanism beginswith empire, in the contact zone between coloniser and colonized, in the space of oftenunequal encounter and exchange with the cultural other. Within post-colonial theory, Walter Mignolo (2000) also links cosmopolitan projects with colonialism. He points out thatcosmopolitan designs have been framed within coloniality’s different forms of exclusion andarticulation: either through Christianity as a planetary ideology (the rights of the people), or around the nation-state and the law as grounds of colonialism (rights of man and of thecitizen), or as the need to regulate the planetary conflict between democracy and socialismduring the Cold War (human rights) (Mignolo, 2000: 26). Even in the postnational historicalcontext of the 1990s, Mignolo argues that colonialism has been reformulated in terms of national diversity and cosmopolitanism (Mignolo 2000: 12). By refashioning Kant'scosmopolitan ideas, liberal cosmopolitans such as Danielle Archibugi and David Held call for the rise of a “universal system of cosmo-political governance”, which would ultimatelyundermine the nation-state as the “sole centre of legitimate power within [its]own borders”(Archibugi & Held, 1995).The theoretical lineage to which I made reference above is not coincidental. AsMignolo points out, cosmopolitan projects “shall be seen not only as a chronological order  but also as the synchronic coexistence of colonialism” (Mignolo, 2000: 26). The framework in which the three cosmopolitan designs mentioned above is clearly linked to three differentstages of the modern/colonial world system (the Spanish empire and Portuguese colonialismtheorized by Vitoria; the British empire and French and German colonialism defended byKant, and U.S. imperialism after the Cold War). In other words, cosmopolitan projects have been at work during both moments of modernity. The first was a religious project; the secondwas secular. Both, however, were linked to coloniality and to the emergence of themodern/colonial world: “Coloniality, in other words, is the hidden face of modernity and itsvery condition of possibility” (Mignolo, 2000: 3). The link of cosmopolitanism and
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The term originates in the Greek words cosmos (world) and polis (city, people, citizenry)
 
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colonialism reveals that rather than genuine attempts of world conviviality, cosmopolitannarratives have been constructed and structured from the perspective of modernity/colonialitythereby reproducing unequal power relations. Following Mignolo, I argue that thecosmopolitan project that emerged in the “postnational” world order, to which I link thecategory of “world music”, arose from within modernity, and as such, it has failed to escapeits liberal ideological frame. In this sense, the dominant discourse of “world music” gives animage of the world as a “global village” where differences are happily being blurred, similar to the discourse embedded in the normative concept of “global civil society”.The liberal-cosmopolitan idea of “global civil society” refers to the widening,deepening and speeding up of global interconnectedness and interdependence (Archibugi &Held, 1995). The same idea can be found in World Music in the appreciation of hybridity andhybrid cultures. As Ashawani Sharma notes: “World Music promotions often positionexceptional artists rooted in their specific musical cultures, and re-work their music throughthe encounter and fusion with Western technology and production. This meeting with theWest is seen as enhancing the music. However, the valorization of particular musical artistsas global 'ethnic' stars also has the effect of marginalizing and ignoring the vast body of musical forms that have not had the 'fortune' of encountering the West” (Sharma et al., 1996:24). Hybridity takes a particular form in which the nature of ‘ethnic authenticity’ isrecomposed. By placing these ‘global stars’ within particular imagined, but fixed ethnicities,World Music industry makes invisible the artists’ displacement and marginality; and it limitstheir possibility of transcending their own cultural particularity (Sharma et al., 1996).Despite being normative ideals to reflect the global public sphere (either in politics or music), the more the principle of inclusion of people or musics in a global community itsemphasized, the more this idea disregards the limits of inclusion of marginalized people andmusics (Kitamura, 2005). As Jan Aart Scholte (2000) mentions regarding the inadequaterepresentation in the so-called “global civil society”:“In terms of civilizational inputs, supraterritorial civic activity has on thewhole drawn much more from Western Judeo-Christian traditions thanfrom African, Buddhist, Confucian, Eastern Orthodox, Hindu, Islamic andother culture (…) Moreover, it has shown a pronounced class biasspreading disproportionately within urban-based, (relatively) high-earning,university-educated, computer-literate, English-speaking professionals(…) In sum, participation in global civil society has revealed many of the

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