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Reviewed by:
  • Music and Globalization: Critical Encounters ed. by Bob W. White
  • Carolyn Elerding
Music and Globalization: Critical Encounters By Bob W. White Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2012. viii + 233233 pp. ISBN 9780253223654 paper.

The selections included in Music and Globalization investigate the social particularities of “world music,” a generic category introduced in the 1980s for marketing purposes. Multiple indigenous, subaltern, and Western perspectives are represented with a consistent degree of reflexivity by influential scholars from various parts of the world. To supplement the text, Critical World’s free, public website provides multilingual auxiliary media with broad and scholarly appeal, although frustration may result from the subtlety with which authorship and copyright are indicated (

Canadian anthropologist Bob W. White’s introduction reiterates the well-established case for researching music as cultural mediation in a global context, addressing a diverse audience at a moment in higher education marked by profound ambivalence regarding the roles of theory and technology in pedagogy and research. For those unfamiliar with world music, he provides a useful orientation to the history of the term and genre and to associated issues of culturalism and exploitation. His cursory treatment of some recent texts is helpful, given that many of this anthology’s brief chapters appear to be nearly a decade old.

The opening essay by French scholar Denis-Constant Martin examines the construction of racial identity in the popular music legacies of black-face minstrelsy and gospel music, building on Glissant’s conceptualization of relation as an accelerating, omnidirectional “creolization”—a theory deserving of sustained attention in ethnomusicological circles. Martin proposes, as have others, that the involuntary diaspora of the Black Atlantic prefigures globalization, suggesting that cultural “cross-fertilization” provides a matrix for “innovation.” In the face of oppression, he argues, slaves developed powerful new cultural forms using materials from their pasts combined with compatible elements from their present environment. Despite their formations in other disciplines, Martin and translator Chris Turner achieve translucent music analyses in most of the more technical passages. [End Page 202]

Many readers will turn next to Timothy D. Taylor’s chapter for its well-substantiated evaluation of the role of class and ethnicity in the economy of world music. Taylor, one of today’s most erudite scholars of world music, music technology, and the political economy of music, details the development of this relatively low-selling genre into a ubiquitous, though frequently unrecognized, presence permeating music in general, a trend intensified by digital mediation. Rafael José de Menezes Bastos continues with a thorough and incisive version of the history of Western “art” music from a native South American perspective, critiquing Western and Brazilian traditions with equal force and virtuosity. This article is strongly recommended, regardless of one’s interest in the particularities of the historic collaboration between Amazonian shaman Raoni and Sting in 1989—and despite its abrupt ending and perhaps dated representation of the author’s theory.

Australian scholar and “music ecologist” Philip Hayward adumbrates some typical Western critical perspectives on globalization and juxtaposes them with the views of musicians from the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. Hayward elucidates the role of the technological mediation of culture in the formation of national identity and stresses the agency of ni-Vanuatu, who view globalization culturally and economically as a welcome opportunity. Daniel Noveck, currently affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute, reaches similar conclusions to Hayward, articulating the complex negotiations of perceptions of authenticity among indigenous, entrepreneurial, and governmental entities. Of particular interest regarding borders and performance, he recounts events surrounding the brief residency of Rarámuri violinists from northern Mexico at a workshop in Cremona.

The subsequent contributions by Ariana Hernandez-Reguant and Richard M. Shain explore Cuban and Afro-Cuban music, respectively. Hernandez-Reguant examines Cuba in the 1990s and the growth of world music production after the Soviet Union’s demise. With the success of Ry Cooder’s Buena Vista Social Club, foreign independent producers marketed progressive politics blended with exoticism to Western audiences and tapped into a pattern of cultural and ethical ambivalence that was already well-established in West African world music industries. Hernandez-Reguant critiques these producers’ highly performative acts of curation in light of their influence...


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