Item Details

Return to the Echo Chamber: Race, Sound and the Future of Community (Excerpt)

Issue: Vol 8 No. 1 (2021) Special Issue: Sounds in the City: Street Technology and Public Space

Journal: Journal of World Popular Music

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/jwpm.43085


Jamaican sound system culture has long grounded my work because it foregrounds race due to much of the lyrical and ideological content, and technology via the obsession with sonic reproduction. Over twenty years after first establishing these connections, a return to them is clearly overdue given their rootedness in immigrant sub-cultures and counter-publics. However, as described by Martiniquan theorist, Edouard Glissant, this return cannot be motivated by “a longing for origins, to some immutable state of being”, but instead must be towards “the point of entanglement”, to where we discovered the complexities and contradictions in the first place. For me that tangled knot has always featured a contentious weaving of two primary threads, two elements that historically make each other sensible but which still have no essential or satisfactory relationship to each other—race and sound. 

Author: Louis Chude-Sokei

View Original Web Page

References :

Attali, Jacques. 1985. Noise: The Political Economy of Music. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.

Chude-Sokei, Louis. 1997. Dr. Satan’s Echo Chamber: Reggae, Technology and the Diaspora Process. Kingston, Jamaica: International Reggae Studies Centre, University of the West Indies.

—2011. “When Echoes Return: Roots, Diaspora and Possible Africas (A Eulogy)”. Transition: An International Review 104: 76–92.

Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus. 2nd ed. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Derrida, Jacques. 2006. Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International. New York: Routledge.

Di Maio, Alessandra. 2012. “The Black Mediterranean: Migration and Revolution in the Global Millennium”. Public Lecture, African Studies Centre, University of California, Los Angeles, 7 May.

Fisher, Mark. 2012. “What is Hauntology?”. Film Quarterly 66/1: 16–24.

—2013. “The Metaphysics of Crackle: Afrofuturism and Hauntology”. Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture 5/2: 42–55.

Gabriel, Teshome. 1993. “Ruin and the Other: Towards a Language of Memory”. (accessed 18 October 2020).

Gilroy, Paul. 1993. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.

Glissant, Edouard. 1989. Caribbean Discourse: Selected Essays. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press.

Ihde, Don. 2007. Listening and Voice: Phenomenologies of Sound. 2nd ed. New York: State University of New York Press.

Jaji, Tsitsi Ella. 2014. Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music and Pan African Solidarity. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lovelace, Earl. 2011. “We Are on the Verge of Listening” (Interview by B.C. Pires), The Caribbean Review of Books. (accessed 21 October 2020).

Macaulay, Rose. 1953. Pleasure of Ruins. New York: Barnes and Noble Books.

Okpewho, Isidore and Nzegwu Nkiru. 2009. The New African Diaspora. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Wehiliye, Alexander. 2005. Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.