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Sophie Berrebi Objects for Cultural Analysis Cosmopolitanism: What we talk about when we talk about World Music I As 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 and also what differentiates it. In fact, musical genre has become the most popular music descriptor in the context of large musical databases and electronic music distribution (Aucouturier, 2003: 1). The object of this paper is the category “world music”. Although music 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 grouped under 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 lumped into the general category of “world music”. What is the desire on my part to make its politics of 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 politics and ethics of music. In this essay I address the significance of “world music” through the concept 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 will further explain in this essay, while initially it served as a catalyst for mobilization around transnational political issues, the commercialization of global music has made this music a mass-cultural phenomenon that raises problems of cultural, economic and ethical politics symptomatic of larger processes within the global cultural economy.
II Cosmopolitanism is generally associated to the consciousness of being a citizen of the world and of finding ways of social, economic and political conviviality1. This idea has a long theoretical lineage stretching back through the Greek Stoicism (Zenon), Christian Theology (St. Paul), Kantian critical theory and on to present day articulations of global democracy (Archibugi & Held, 1995). According to Roberts (2008), cosmopolitanism begins with empire, in the contact zone between coloniser and colonized, in the space of often unequal encounter and exchange with the cultural other. Within post-colonial theory, Walter Mignolo (2000) also links cosmopolitan projects with colonialism. He points out that cosmopolitan designs have been framed within coloniality’s different forms of exclusion and articulation: 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 the citizen), or as the need to regulate the planetary conflict between democracy and socialism during the Cold War (human rights) (Mignolo, 2000: 26). Even in the postnational historical context of the 1990s, Mignolo argues that colonialism has been reformulated in terms of national diversity and cosmopolitanism (Mignolo 2000: 12). By refashioning Kant's cosmopolitan ideas, liberal cosmopolitans such as Danielle Archibugi and David Held call for the rise of a “universal system of cosmo-political governance”, which would ultimately undermine 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. As Mignolo 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 different stages of the modern/colonial world system (the Spanish empire and Portuguese colonialism theorized by Vitoria; the British empire and French and German colonialism defended by Kant, 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 second was secular. Both, however, were linked to coloniality and to the emergence of the modern/colonial world: “Coloniality, in other words, is the hidden face of modernity and its very condition of possibility” (Mignolo, 2000: 3). The link of cosmopolitanism and
The term originates in the Greek words cosmos (world) and polis (city, people, citizenry)
colonialism reveals that rather than genuine attempts of world conviviality, cosmopolitan narratives have been constructed and structured from the perspective of modernity/coloniality thereby reproducing unequal power relations. Following Mignolo, I argue that the cosmopolitan project that emerged in the “postnational” world order, to which I link the category of “world music”, arose from within modernity, and as such, it has failed to escape its liberal ideological frame. In this sense, the dominant discourse of “world music” gives an image 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 and hybrid cultures. As Ashawani Sharma notes: “World Music promotions often position exceptional artists rooted in their specific musical cultures, and re-work their music through the encounter and fusion with Western technology and production. This meeting with the West is seen as enhancing the music. However, the valorization of particular musical artists as 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’ is recomposed. By placing these ‘global stars’ within particular imagined, but fixed ethnicities, World Music industry makes invisible the artists’ displacement and marginality; and it limits their 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 its emphasized, the more this idea disregards the limits of inclusion of marginalized people and musics (Kitamura, 2005). As Jan Aart Scholte (2000) mentions regarding the inadequate representation in the so-called “global civil society”: “In terms of civilizational inputs, supraterritorial civic activity has on the whole drawn much more from Western Judeo-Christian traditions than from African, Buddhist, Confucian, Eastern Orthodox, Hindu, Islamic and other culture (…) Moreover, it has shown a pronounced class bias spreading 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
same patterns of inequality that have marked the globalizing world political economy more generally” (p.31).
This statement can be applied to the different sites of agency2 involved in the World Music industry in which participation has almost always been limited to Western actors and their collaborations (often under unequal conditions) with Non-Western musicians. The cosmopolitan quest for a peaceful conviviality of world citizens within the liberal discourse is operated dialogically and through the institutionalization of deliberative procedures (Tambakaki, 2009). In this sense, cosmopolitanism is based on the same “postpolitical” principle on which liberal democracies are also grounded: consensus as the central goal of a society. Its defenders argue that through consensus the chaotic and disordered nature of human sociability will be overcome (Rancière, 2007). For liberal cosmopolitans, the solution to international anarchy consists in either limiting it by legal and other means, or elevating it to the global level (Morozov, 2010: 5). This is the reason why cosmopolitanism has been associated with grand projects like the construction of a world federation of republican states, or even the creation of a world state. As Rancière (2007) has noted, this particular understanding of democracy, and I extend it to cosmopolitanism, does not allow to see the demos or the citizen of the world as a subject present in the social body, a subject able to question or change collections and orders, but as a subject who defines themself3 by their positive relationship to a certain set of rules of a community. Both, liberal cosmopolitanism and democracy, exclude conflict, paradoxes, disagreements and differences in the name of consensus. Contrary to what these theories suggest, Chantal Mouffe and other critical theorists underline the importance of difference in the construction of a cosmopolitan political community. They argue that just like “dissent” in democracies, “difference” guarantees plurality and change in a given community or system (Derrida 1997; Nancy 2000; Mouffe 2008). These theorists situate antagonism and conflict on the ontological level, therefore as institutive of all human societies and constitutive of politics. For example, in Mouffe’s (1999) criticism of consensus as a core value of modern democracies, she states: “What is specific and valuable about modern democracy is that, when properly understood, it creates a space in which this confrontation is kept
Stokes (2003) questions the idea that large and powerful corporations have a total control of this music industry. Rather he suggests understanding this phenomenon as a result of material forces that both enable and constrain the movement of music and musicians around the globe. He theorizes these “material forces” as sites of agency, mainly the actors involved: recording industry, migrant culture, and nation-states (299). 3 Although this form is not widely accepted in standard English, According to the Oxford Dictionary, the singular form “themself” can be used as a neutral gender pronoun instead of ‘himself’ or ‘herself’.
open, power relations are always being put into question and no victory can be final. (…) This agonal democracy requires that conflict and division become accepted as inherent elements in politics and the acknowledgement that there is no moment in which reconciliation can be achieved as a complete actualization of the unity of the people.”(745-748)
With the concept of agonal democratic politics, the idea of a democratic society or a cosmopolitan community goes beyond the institutional principles in which a political regime (either domestic or international) is grounded. Instead, in its broadest sense, is a form of subjectivity through which the political subject exists in a given community and whose participation takes the form of a counterpower (Rancière, 2007: 9). In this sense, Rancière’s democratic society would resemble what Mouffe (2008) describes as the alternative form of cosmopolitan community, a “multipolar order” in which opposing political projects constantly pluralize and challenge the established hegemonies. This understanding both of the democratic and the cosmopolitan community suggests the impossibility of conceiving a community with a determined or fixed form, since its internal divisions and differences will never stop working, and reorienting and altering it by the praxis of open confrontation. (Chaui, 2008: 7). In this sense, democracy or cosmopolitanism are no longer the realm of the common law and consensus; they become the space where facticity lends itself to contingency and to the resolution of the egalitarian layout of a society. To explain this argument, I will look closely at the theoretical perspective that informs this position. Instead of basing an understanding of democracy or ethico-political relations on a particular human nature or essence as liberal cosmopolitanism does, Mouffe opts for a more relational view of subjectivity. She uses the notion of the constitutive outside which she borrows from Derrida to explain the ineradicability of antagonism in a community. According to the notion of the constitutive outside, an ‘outside’ or difference, both conditions the emergence of an object and prevents its full realization (Arash, 2005: 109). This is to say that the outside is far from the simple opposite of the inside, they rather codeterminate each other: it only makes sense to refer to the outside in the context of the inside, and vice versa. This philosophical assumption is precisely what leads Mouffe (1996) to argue that antagonism is always potential and ineradicable in politics and that difference is constitutive of cosmopolitics: “It is because every object has inscribed in its very being something other than itself and that as a result, everything is constructed as differance, that its being cannot be conceived as pure “presence” or “objectivity”. Since
the constitutive outside is present within the inside as its always real possibility, every identity becomes purely contingent. This implies that we should conceptualise power not as an external relation, taking place between two preconstituted identities but rather as constituting the identities themselves.” (247)
In the same line, as Baker (2009) notes, Derrida suggests to view cosmopolitanism as synonymous with an ethics of hospitality. In On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness hospitality deconstructs the dialectical account of identity and difference embedded in the liberal discourse of cosmopolitanism and turns cosmopolitanism away from the pure ethics of its liberal variants, transforming it into an ethicopolitics where difference is always presupposed (Derrida, 1998). Derrida presents universality and singularity in irreconcilable tension but as Mouffe, a tension that is productive of differance (Lumdsen, 2007). This takes me back to the initial question of this essay, which I will explore in the next section; what form of cosmopolitan community does the category or “world music” suggests? III The concept “world music” was first circulated by academics in the early 1960’s as an alternative and less academic term to ethnomusicology. In their inception, both concepts were meant to include non-western music and performers in western music institutions. However, the dualism embedded in these concepts reproduced the marginalization of “the other”, leaving the relationship of the colonizing and the colonized almost intact (Feld, 2000: 147). Just as “world music” intended to include non-western music in western institutions, the concept “global civil society” intends to include non-western nation-states to the Western International Community. As Baker points out, the concept of global civil society shares the same fundamental problem as state sovereignty, namely that it is better at articulating global identity than difference because it reproduces statist attempts to describe a universal structure of particularity (Baker, 2009: 107). Although it might seem that there is recognition of “the other”, this concept reduces difference to a universal identity, avoiding the recognition of the infinite forms of difference and singularities4 of a social body. This is the discourse on difference that has successfully permeated the music industry with the use of the concept of “world music”.
In Being Singular Plural Nancy (2000) explains the plurality within singularity: ‘The singular is primarily each one and, therefore, also with and among all the others. The singular is a plural’ (32).Thus, singularity does not make sense unless it is seen with or in relation to the other singularities that make it singular and it can never be fully realized.
7 Record labels and concert promoters adopted this term in the late 1980s to expand the
global market for popular music through the incorporation of new alternative genres and audiences, the former non-western and the latter mainly western, within the music industry. It replaced categories such as “traditional music,” “international music,” and “ethnic music” in the popular music market place. This period’s world music production was characterized by pop star collaboration and curation sponsored by the Western pop music elite and their record companies who were able to finance artistic forays into a world that would quickly come to be experienced as geographically expansive and aesthetically familiar (Feld, 2000: 149). World Music production has changed its tendencies overtime however, it has often taken two roads: either through ethnomusicology—a tendency mostly based on salvage ethnology, or on the West’s search for authentic, endangered cultures and sounds— or through the hybridization of these musical traditions commonly presented in multiple music genres, such as world beat, fusion, ethnopop, tribal as well as ambient, trance, and new age. Despite the fact that world music thrives in various landscapes, which result from global flows, the idea of world music remains “a flight from the Western-self at the very moment of the self’s suffocating hegemony as though people were driven away by the image stalking them in the mirror” (Brennan, 2001: 4). According to Sharma, “this universalization of a specific and undifferentiated category of a subject renders the violence endemic in the production of migrancy/coloniality invisible. It decontextualizes “the other” from her socioeconomic and historical situation, transforming her into the transcendental subject of subalternity and/or of the postmodern subject, outside the workings of contemporary neocolonialism” (Sharma et al., 1996: 19). Damai (2007) shows that within this monological order of cosmopolitanism, even at its best, World Music remains an echo of the sounds from a few powerful states that control the media (118). These sites of agency not only succeed in globally marketing their music, but they are also capable of co-opting sounds produced to resist—or at least to escape—the grip of their monologue. Brennan (2001) gives the example of salsa and he says: “What most people understand to be salsa today is a joining in sound of 1970s already established American popular and commercial forms” (Brennan, 2001: 48). He uses this example to show how different forms of non-western music have had to take certain roads, which means that there were other roads they could not take, or in the case of “salsa” that they did take but only in an isolated context as it happened in Cuba—a country partially protected from the world market. The problem that Brennan (2001) and Roberts (2008), in the specific cases of
Salsa and Brazilian Tropicalismo, want to point out is not the North Americanization of these musics, but rather the limited openness of the market to non-Western forms of music. This category per se does not reproduce and perpetuate an exotic and obscure image of “the other”. As Stokes (2003) mentions, this would not have been much different if this music had been labeled as “third world music” (147). This happens mainly on how the music industry, the academy and other sites of agency have framed it and presented it to the public: as heterogeneous musical forms encoded in terms of nation and national cultures, that either have little to do with the hegemonic national culture or cross the boundaries of nation-states, reducing these cultures to essentialist and traditional fixities. This has led to the reproduction of the aesthetic cosmopolitanism of historical elites through global tourism and other forms of cultural consumption. Although many academics have unveiled the undemocratic5 nature of this category, most of the attempts for deconstructing it have remained in the theoretical and academic realm. In this essay I would like to show an example within the music industry in which this category has been questioned in practice, thereby suggesting other forms of presenting and conceiving World Music and even a cosmopolitan community. The reason why the deconstruction of this category has had little echo in the music industry is because it shows a world that goes against “the wheel of sovereignty of a single State” (Damai, 2007). As I already mentioned, this category is used to describe a universal structure of particularity rather than to articulate difference. Furthermore, the production and commercialization of this music is made by the major actors of the “archon”, mainly multinational labels6 and nation-states who are more interested in legitimating a universal particularity rather than singularities that could put into question the definition of already established and legitimized communities. However, these actors have not been entirely successful in controlling the whole market, there are still few small independent labels that produce world music and try to suggest a different cosmopolitan community in their music catalogues. Sublime Frequencies’ international radio collages provide a useful critical vantage point. I will make a close reading of their catalogue to show an example of how through the way the music is presented to the public, the category of world music is dismantled suggesting an alternative cosmopolitan community, which differs from a single monological world order.
In Archive Fever Derrida (1998) suggests that an Archive is not democratic, when it is not being transparent on how its representations are being built in it. 6 The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) estimates that the multinationals (mainly Japanese, American and European) control approximately 80 to 90 percent of sales of legally recorded music worldwide.
IV Sublime Frequencies is a small, independent record label from Seattle (USA) completely self-financed by Alan Bishop and Hisham Mayet. It started unofficially in the early 1980s as a personal project with Alan Bishop’s collected music and recordings from North Africa and the Middle East during his trips in these regions. This continued into the 90s spreading to East Asia until he finally decided to officially prepare his collages for public consumption in 2003. This label specializes in content and techniques that question other approaches to popular non-western music which highlight an artificial purity in the music of these regions, separating and isolating it to preserve it in a little box where nothing can affect it. As Bishop mentioned in an interview with Dave Segal (2005): “god forbid a plane flies over during a recording, they’ll cut that out and make it as pure as possible. It’s not reality anymore”. Against scientific objectivity and the “over-mediated and off-putting pedagogical quality of most ethnomusicological releases” (Segal, 2005), Sublime Frequencies’ raw material comes from radio snippets, pop tunes from street vendors’ cassettes, and anthologies that are explicitly products of their compilers’ subjective experience. Moreover, its collagelike aesthetics creates a musical surreality that disrupts and critiques dominant modes of creating and appreciating music (Damai, 2007). Unlike traditional world music recordings, Bishop eschews the common desire to preserve something in its original state, treating the music as malleable and showing that traditional music is dynamic and has the capacity to change (Provan, Dusted Magazine). He even includes western popular music in his collages making visible but more important, making audible the western popular music influence in this remote places’ music production Sublime Frequencies works as a minority in the World Music industry. Deleuze and Guattari define minority in opposition to majority, but insist that the difference between them is not quantitative since social minorities can be more numerous than the so-called majority. The minority is defined by the gap which separates its members from the standard, while the majority is defined as the group that most closely approximates that standard; it implies a state of domination. Thus, the relevance of a minority stems on the questions it raises about difference and the defense of the particular against all forms of universalisation or representation (Patton, 2000: 74). The radio-collage collections of Sublime Frequencies exemplify the minoritarian workings of this label. The unique practice of radio collage is the creative process in which the production of this label becomes different or diverges from the
majority of world music labels. Its music makes an open call to the listener towards becoming-the other. In this sense, the clips of each song are blocks of becomings that create a space of processes and knowledge in which local and global identities are being continually negotiated, and where histories and memories are being re-narrated. This emphasis on production rather than on fixed identities draws attention to the listener as producer rather than consumer of his culture and society, which in turn are understood as invisible and transient assemblages rather than solid and fixed products and contracts (Voegelin, 2010: 154). The International Radio Collage collection of this label includes the following albums: Radio Java, Radio Palestine, Radio Algeria, Radio India, Radio Sumatra, Radio Morocco and Radio Thailand, among others. These records offer a diverse soundspace from a number of places resisting the projection or representation of “the other” based on the ethnocentric discourse. Although the label keeps the national tags and the kitsch album art characteristic of world music records, it is through sound that Bishop intends to disrupt the listener’s idea of World Music. The lack of correspondence between the sound and the image triggers a split where the eye becomes the ear and vice versa producing a new space articulated by an “amicable difference” of the sensorial material (Voegelin, 2010). This split can be considered as a space for musical and cultural differences to emerge in such a manner that any identification with the hegemonic order is weakened and disrupted by the shifting, contingent contacts of musical and cultural encounters (Sharma, 1996). What happens in the encounters that occur in those moments, and how those encountered feel about it, is an open question, and one that Alan Bishop wishes to provoke. News reports, theatrical commercials, clips of songs, voices, snippets from a radio play, radio static and ambient local sounds are some of the basic elements that make up the sound-collage works of Alan Bishop. Although these collections often sound like a stream of consciousness or the mere record of a particular person’s stroll along the radio dial, the sounds and the music in each compilation have been clearly prepared and selected with each other in mind. In this sense, one could argue that Alan Bishop and his collaborators at Sublime Frequencies are like documentary filmmakers who piece together found footage. In the end their sound collages could be read as a work whose originality is purely a function of montage (Boon, 2006). Montage is usually associated to the 20th century Western avant-garde artistic practice that emerged as a politically motivated attempt to destroy or rearrange a consensus. This artistic practice produced a direct transformation of consciousness in the audience by
juxtaposing traditional and experimental elements in the art works. Boon compares this label’s collection with previous montage practices and describes Sublime Frequencies’ collages as "ethnopsychedelic" - a music of strange jumps, juxtapositions and alliances that are not situated easily on either side of the modern/traditional divide in opposition to the kind of smooth fusions that world music aspires to. He states: “their sound montages cut through the boundaries that make up ‘us’ and ‘them’ creating an open, fragmentary space in which unexpected sounds surge up, lines of flight that send us, not into pure abstraction, but into moments of other people's lived history” (Boon, 2006). This invasion of the domestic sphere by the public world is what makes this radio collages unhomely, and thus homeless. Bhabha (1994) refers to the invasion of the domestic sphere by the public world as the “unhomely” moment. He describes how the borders between the home and the outside world become confused: “Private and public, past and present, the psyche and the social develop an interstitial intimacy. It is an intimacy that questions binary divisions through which such spheres of social experience are often spatially opposed” (340). With their unhomely resonance, these sounds create insterstitial spaces that displace the binary opposition of self and other. The cuts in these albums are a clandestine community of sounds that not only resists being intelligible, they also resist being worldly in the sense of being the easily translatable and classifiable performance of the ethnic other. As Damai (2007) suggests, this music is not cosmopolitan in the sense that it is World Music, but that it resists the idea of the world music that is predicated on the wheel of sovereignty of the individual State. It seeks to interrupt the monologue of the western idea or concept of world music, not by imagining an absolute exterior or by pretending to produce adapted sounds or compositions but by representing a world-to-come as the impossible and hauntological ‘exchange’ between the self and the other, or between different parts of the world. Its aesthetic politics lies in their representation of world music as a tower in ruin, or a house that stands on the impossibility of being a house (119). It is a haunted house in which every sound echoes the specter of difference and otherness. In Des Tour de Babel, Derrida (1985) states: “The ‘tower of Babel’ does not merely figure the irreducible multiplicity of tongues; it exhibits an incompletion, the impossibility of finishing, of totalizing, of saturating, of completing something on the order of edification, architectural construction, system and architectonics. What the multiplicity of idioms actually limits is not only a “true translation, a
transparent and adequate inter-expression, it is also a structural order, a coherence of construct. (218)
As in Derrida’s analysis of the deconstruction of the tower of Babel, these collages signify the impossibility of a single or monolithic tower of world music. By rupturing the tower, a differential space is created in order for the other to speak or to be heard. It is through this space that these collages incarnate a cosmopolitan world in the Derridean sense presenting a sense of rupture, difference, and disjuncture that is evident for example in the album Radio Sumatra: The Indonesian FM Experience. In this compilation Alan Bishop assembled excerpts from over 60 cuts lifted from the FM airwaves of the major Indonesian cities in the summer of 2004, producing a sound collage that highlights the kaleidoscopic variety of the media in Indonesia. The sampling platter includes local pop, rock, dance, metal, hip-hop, and jazz tunes, all bearing the strong influence of the Western music world, yet still firmly rooted in the local culture, a culture that is itself a blend of Asian and Arab influences (Couture, All Music Guide). The segments of chatter, news, weather, station IDs and ads show how much FM radio is cast in the same mold, no matter what country you live in. The rapid cycling of sounds in the album makes it difficult for the listener to gain a very concrete conception of the music or the culture itself, the clippings, sounds and songs included are an effort to frustrate the desire to reduce a culture to a single document (Provan, Dusted Magazine). One of the last tracks of the album, “Heavy Rotations”, starts with the announcement of heavy rotations. This announcement is followed by the first rotation, a clip of beating drums from a Buddhist monastery, which in turn gives way to another rotation, a call to prayer from a mosque. These rotations are juxtaposed to a couple of playful commercial and tunes to dangdut style music, all of which eventually culminate in a hip-hop rap in Bahasa Indonesian. As Damai (2007) shows, these rotations are not simply multiple, nor do they merely form a musical collage. Nor are they an unproblematic representation of history—a history of colonization, imperialism, and genocide—from which they are invariably indissociable. Through the surreal continuity and arrest that at once connect them, they reveal the way one rotation is exposed, questioned or even vulnerable to the other. These rotations not only form a sonic labyrinth, but by moving towards exteriority or by “being drawn out of oneself” they open space or time itself, thereby making a becoming-world possible, which is different from the totalizing world of “world music” or globalization. The variety of sounds from the cities, streets, mountain tracks, and temples and monasteries presented in these albums demonstrate not only the plurality within singularity, but also the impossibility of any exhaustive or even fairly representative recording of sounds
from any of these countries. By resisting the urge to concentrate on some exotic sounds of one ethnic minority or place, this collection not only juxtaposes and interrupts sonic experiences—thereby invoking their incompleteness—but it also keeps the music forever open in order for the other sounds to be heard (Damai, 2007). In this sense, the clips of these albums resemble what Jean-Luc Nancy calls “the voice of the community”, or the music that interrupts itself: “If it must be affirmed that myth is essential to community-but only in the sense that it completes it and gives it the closure and the destiny of an individual, of a completed totality- it is equally necessary to affirm that in the interruption of myth is heard the voice of the interrupted community, the voice of the incomplete, exposed community speaking as myth without being in any respect mythic speech. This voice seems to play back the declarations of myth, for in the interruption there is nothing new to be heard, there is no new myth breaking through: it is the old story one seems to hear” (Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community, 62) When a voice or music is suddenly interrupted, says Nancy, one hears just at the moment “a mixture of various silences and noises that had been covered over by the sound”, in other words, at such instances “one hears again the voice or music that has become in a way the voice or music of its own interruption”. It is precisely these interruptions that the voice or music undergoes in order to make itself audible that make articulation an event. Then, the articulation of the other takes place as the overwhelming event of the arrival of “the other”, even at the moment when the host, as in the case of Tibet/China, Palestine/Israel, or India/Pakistan, is not at all ready to receive “the other” as the guest. These albums infinitize “the other” by listening to the multiple sites of “otherness”, and also by musically thinking the other infinitely. It keeps the rotations of music open and free from the monlogic idea of sameness of the Being (Damai, 2007). V In this essay I tried to link the category “world music” with the concept of cosmopolitanism. While the relationship of these concepts might seem obvious, a close reading of both allowed me to tinge the different layers that interplay in their connection. I presented two different interpretations of the cosmopolitan community and contrasted them with the category of “world music” to show the politics and ethics behind it. I argued that the way this category is used in the music industry and moreover the way it is given content
through the music that is grouped under its name and the way it is normally presented to the public, does not escape the liberal cosmopolitan discourse of a monological order. This category builds representations where “the other” is encoded in terms of nation and national cultures and where “the other” becomes the object of tourism and the colors of liberal multiculturalism. This discourse tampers any possibility for the emergence of singularities, difference and alternative projects for the cosmopolitan community implicit in the category of “world music”. It is a category where the Western community welcomes “the other”, however “the other” already has a role to play in this community, they don’t get to question or change the orders or collections of this community and therefore their political participation is defined by their positive relationship to a certain set of rules already established in the community. As I mentioned, there are some examples within the music industry where the category of “world music” is being questioned and perhaps transformed. The example I presented was the American independent label Sublime Frequencies, I argued that their “International Radio Collages” suggest a different cosmopolitan community based on hospitality, where the relation to “the other” guides everything concerning the bond between singularities. I argued that the way this label questions this category allows one to think of World Music and the cosmopolitan community differently, where difference might not only be a positive element in cosmopolitanism but a presupposed and crucial element for its existence. As I already outlined, Mouffe (2008) places difference and antagonism right at the centre of her approach to democracy and cosmopolitanism. She argues that the aim of a democratic politics should be to transform this antagonism into agonism by producing opposing political projects that will pluralize and thereby challenge the established hegemonies. These counter-hegemonic articulations represent what Mignolo (2000) calls “border thinking” or “border epistemology”. According to this author “inclusion does not seem to be the solution to cosmopolitanism any longer, insofar as it presupposes that the agency that establishes the inclusion is itself beyond inclusion: ‘he’ being already within the frame from which it is possible to think of ‘inclusion’”(736). Border thinking as he frames it, is the recognition and transformation of the hegemonic imaginary from the perspectives of people in subaltern positions. In trying to extrapolate this analysis to my object, the tension between the theoretical solution and the object became visible: ethics versus market. World Music, as other cultural identities, objects and practices has been transformed into a commodity, and as such it is
framed within a production/consumption logic that goes beyond the ethics presented as an alternative cosmopolitanism in this essay. This became even more evident when I reflected on the label I chose to exemplify the possibility of practicing this “alternative” cosmopolitanism. While Sublime Frequencies does question the dominant conception of World Music, this articulation does not come from the “subaltern perspective”. As Stokes (2003) notes, the same applies to similar independent labels, which are mainly based in Western metropolis such as London, Paris or New York. However I would not promptly discard this project as a counter-hegemonic articulation. From the close reading of the International Radio Collages of Sublime Frequencies, it is clear that this articulation seeks to subvert the ideological parochialism of World Music and it indeed offers a different interpretation of this category. The question regarding how or when these counter-hegemonic projects in the music industry or global politics will come from subaltern positions still remains. It is beyond the scope of this paper to describe the few but significant articulations being made not only in the music industry but also in the political realm. However, it is essential to recognize that only through this forms of articulation or counter-articulation, “world music” as well as “cosmopolitanism” and “democracy” will become arenas in the struggle to overcome coloniality of power, rather than full-fledged words with specific Western content. Works Cited Archibugi, D., and David, Held. (eds.) (1995). Cosmopolitan Democracy: An Agenda for a New World Order, Cambridge: Polity Press. Arash, A. (2005) “Does Collective Identity Presuppose an Other?On the Alleged Incoherence of Global Solidarity”. American Political Science Review. 99(1): 45-60. Aucouturier, Jean J., and Francois Pachet. (2003). “Representing Musical Genre: A State of Art”. JSournal of New Music Research, 32(1):83-93. Baker G. (2009). “Cosmopolitanism as Hospitality: Revisiting Identity and Difference in Cosmopolitanism”. Alternatives. 34(2): 107-128. Bhabha, Homi K. (1994). The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge. Boon, M. (2006). “Sublime Frequencies' Ethnopsychedelic Montages”, Electronic Book Review. Available from: electronicbookreview.com/thread/musicsoundnoise/ethnopsyche Brennan, T. (2001). “World Music Does Not Exist”. Discourse. 23(1): 44-62.
Couture, F. “Radio Sumatra: The Indonesian FM Experience Review”. All Music Guide. Available from: www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,3129142,00.html Chambers, I. (1994). Migrancy, Culture, Identity. London: Routledge.
Chaui, M. (2008). Cultura y democracia (Culture and Democracy). Cuadernos del Pensamiento Crítico Latinoamericano (CLACSO Publicación No. 5). Santiago de Chile : Editorial Aún creemos en los sueños. No english translation available. Damai, P. (2007). “Babelian Cosmopolitanism: Or Tuning in to Sublime Frequencies”, CR: The New Centennial Review. 7(1): 107-138. Derrida, J. (1985). “From Des Tours de Babel”. Translated by Joseph F. Graham, in Joseph F. Graham, Difference in Translation. Cornell University Press. Derrida, J. (1998). Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press. Derrida, J. (1997). On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness. London: Routledge. Feld, S. (2000). “A Sweet Lullaby for World Music”. Public Culture, 12(1): 145-171. Kitamura, O. (2005). “Global Civil Society in a World of Difference: Inclusion, Justice and International Ethics”, International Studies Association Meeting, Available from: http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p69697_index.html Lumsden S. (2007). “Dialectic and différance: The place of singularity in Hegel and Derrida”. Philosophy Social Criticism. 33(6): 667-690. Mignolo W. (2000). “The Many Faces of Cosmo-polis: Border Thinking and Critical Cosmopolitanism”. Public Culture. 12(3): 721-748. Mouffe, C. (1996). “Deconstruction, Pragmatism and the Politics of Democracy” in Mouffe, C. (ed.) Deconstruction and Pragmatism, London: Routledge. Mouffe, Ch. (1999). Deliberative democracy or agonistic pluralism?, Social Research, 66(3): 745-763. Mouffe, Ch. (2008). “Which World Order: Cosmopolitan or Multipolar?”. Ethical Perspectives.15(4):453-467. Nancy, Jean L. (1990). The Inoperative Community. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Nancy, Jean L. (2000). Being Singular Plural. California: Stanford University Press. Patton, P. (2000). Dictionary of Deleuze. New York: Routledge. Provan, A. “Pirate Radio International: The sounds of Sublime Frequencies”. Dusted Magazine. Available from: www.dustedmagazine.com/features/228
Rancière, J. (2007). En los bordes de lo político. Buenos Aires: La Cebra. English translation: Rancière, J. (2007) On the Shores of Politics. Verso. Roberts, M. (2008). “Cosmopolitanism and Music”. Critical Worlds, 8. Available from: http://knol.google.com/k/martin-roberts/cosmopolitanism-andmusic/26loy00h4s0ez/2 Sharma, S. et al. (eds.) (1996). Dis-Orienting Rhythms: The politics of the New Asian Dance Music, London: Zed Books. Scholte Jan A. (2000). “Global Civil Society”, in Ngaire Woods (ed.) The Political Economy of Globalization. New York: St. Martin’s Press: 173-201. Segal D. (2005). “The Other World Music: Sublime Frequencies’ Far-Flung Fantasies”. The Stranger. Available from: http://www.thestranger.com/specials/031705_sublime_freq.html Stokes, M. (2003). “Globalization and the Politics of World Music”. in Martin Clayton et al. (eds.) The Cultural Study of Music: a critical introduction. New York: Routledge. Tambakaki, P. (2009) “Cosmopolitanism or agonism? Alternative visions of world order”. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. 12(1): 101-116. Vaughan-Williams, N. (2007). “Beyond a Cosmopolitan Ideal: the Politics of Singularity”. International Politics, 44:107-124. Viatcheslav M. (2010) “Is Cosmopolitan Community Possible? Stockholm, 9-12 September 2010. Liberalism, Global Available from: Solidarity and the Political”, Paper presented at SGIR 7th Pan-European Conference, http://stockholm.sgir.eu/uploads/SGIR_September_2010.pdf Voegelin S. (2010) Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art. London: Continuum. Discography Radio Algeria. Sublime Frequencies. SF CD 029. Radio India: The Eternal Dream of Music. Sublime Frequencies. SF CD 021. Radio Morocco. Sublime Frequencies. SF CD 007. Radio Palestine: Sounds of the Eastern Meditarranean. SF CD CD 021. Radio Phnom Penh. Sublime Frequencies. SF CD 020. Radio Sumatra: Indonesian FM Experience. Sublime Frequencies. SF CD 021. Tibetan Buddhism: The ritual Orchestra and Chants. Nonesuch Explorer. CD. Tibetan Ritual. UNESCO, CD. Songs and Music of Tibet. Smithsonian Folkways. CD
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