HILD 12 Week 1 Discussion

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.

A: Originally, in the 1800s with the initial arrival of the Chinese laborers, the British believed that there would be little to no mixing between the Chinese and local Jamaican population. This however was not the case. Despite conflict existing between these two minorities, they were able to exist together outside the colonial and capitalistic framework of Jamaican society. Although the Chinese in Jamaica lost their physical ties to China as a result of labor demand, they were able to build successful capital in Jamaica.

Goffe’s article discusses the history of reggae, a popular genre of music originating from the Caribbean. Starting in the mid 19th century, Chinese indentured laborers were brought to Jamaica. Many of them became fugitives from plantations and either returned to China or set up their own shops. By the 1950s, these “Chiney shops” had become a place for creativity and leisure, which often took the form of listening to the radio. These spaces become “extra-colonial,” as they existed outside the colonial infrastructure placed in Jamaica. Outside of the context of colonialism and capitalism, a new Jamaican-Chinese soundscape was born out of these Chiney shops. These soundscapes represent how despite the oppressive and divisive nature of capitalism, there is still potential for minority/disadvantaged groups to communicate and build relationship with each other.

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