HILD12 — Discussion 1

I think that paying attention to the context and creation behind the sounds/soundscape of Jamaica allows us to see the effects of capitalism on our relationships. In many ways capitalism intensified animosity between Jamaican and Chinese communities. The British Empire imposed what Ruth Wilson Gilmore would characterize as racial capitalism to enforce colonial authority. Chinese immigrants were stereotyped as being more productive and diligent than their black counterparts to reinforce the hierarchical and exploitative necessities of capitalism. In turn, some Jamaican also viewed Chinese immigrants as enables of capitalist oppression as the Chinese established a foothold for themselves in private businesses. Here, capitalism is used deliberately to drive competition between two groups to suppress and prevent them from directing their attention against their colonial overlords.

Yet, (perhaps ironically) capitalism also provided an opportunity for both communities to break down preconceived barriers and interact extra-colonially —(from how I understand it) outside of the colonial framework. Jamaican shops assisted Chinese workers by providing them an opportunity to become economically independent through private property. Later, local Chinese businesses proved popular places for Jamaicans to congregate and socialize; it brought in — along with customers — people who were intimately familiar with Jamaican soundsystems and music production. As such a symbiotic relationship between the two communities was forged — enabling both communities to form a greater bond and integrate together by becoming key actors in the development of new Jamaican music — ultimately creating a new way of cultural expression for both communities in the form of reggae music. In other words, Jamaican and Chinese communities were able to circumvented the colonial establishment and forged a shared identity through music.