E-Seminar on 'World Music: a medium for unity and Difference'

C. Wergin, J Haynes, J. Toynbee, J Postill

Research output: Non-textual formWeb publication/site


The aim of my paper is to discuss the existence of World Music within and beyond its economic dimension. It focuses on the question of how a musical space, in which various actors intonate their visions of transcultural unity and difference, can be analysed ethnographically. The paper is meant to give a written ethnographic account of such a space, referring to a specific version of a popular song that probably none of my readers have ever listened to. In this sense, I present an actual working paper, as this constitutes an experiment, in which I herewith invite you to take part. Central to my argument is the fact that World Musicians mediate local images of authenticity for global audiences. They invent traditions to signify unique forms of identities and cultures. Simultaneously, they draw on musical references from different parts of the world. On Réunion Island, an Overseas-Department of France in the Indian Ocean, this process becomes even more apparent. Before its colonisation the island was uninhabited. Traditions here are not original or rooted, but are indicators of cultural transition and routedness. Réunionese Musicians use traditions to (re)territorialise themselves within a translocal soundscape, a World Music scene where Réunion Island becomes one of many points of reference. This is exemplified in a version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” played by a Réunionese band called Bastèr. Their specific musical mediation of culture and identity, to my understanding, offers a different perspective on what a World Music might sound like.
Translated title of the contributionE-Seminar on 'World Music: a medium for unity and Difference'
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2007

Structured keywords

  • SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship


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