HILD 12 Individual Medium Post #1

Q: How might paying attention to sound/soundscapes help us think about all of the ways that capitalism destroys our relationships to each other, as well as about how people continue to form new relationships with each other? Think about this question by engaging Goffe’s concept of extra-coloniality. How might our understanding of Honolulu’s Chinatown change if we engaged this question of sound?

A: Music and sound have been a form of self expression throughout the ages. For many minority groups, soundscapes became a way to escape the harsh and divisive reality of racial capitalism (i.e., reggae, jazz, hip hop, etc.). During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the overextension of imperialism and capitalism forced many people from their homelands, eventually leading to the birth of these new soundscapes.

In the mid 20th century, many Chinese were displaced from their homelands, ending up in foreign places like Jamaica, Hawaii, and California. These people became stateless, many losing ties with their homelands. Those who ended up in Jamaica, although originally brought there as indentured servants by the British, soon were able to open up “Chiney shops” that became places of leisure for the native Jamaicans.

Goffe’s article discusses how reggae was born due to the cultural mixing of the Hakka Chinese immigrants and the native Jamaican population. Both of these groups were forced from their original means of production as a result of capitalism. Yet, as both groups were ranked under the white majority, they were able to culturally mix and form new relationships. The “Chiney shops” became an extra-colonial space, as it existed just outside of the enforced racial capitalistic infrastructure of both Jamaica and the rest of the world.

In Hawaii, a similar situation followed where a new Chinese group suddenly popped up in a place dealing with settler colonialism. By engaging this idea of soundscapes representing different relationships forming and breaking, the music and sounds of Hawaii during the 19th century would have shown the breaking of the native Hawaiian’s original means of living as well as the influx of a new minority group. This perspective allows for a more material representation of the forming and breaking of relationships as a result of capitalism.


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