Critical World
Thinking Globalization Through Popular Culture
Music and Globalization

The edited volume “Music and Globalization: Critical Encounters” is now available at Indiana University Press. Each chapter has an accompanying multi-media project which you can consult while you read by clicking on the links available from the Critical World homepage or by selecting “Critical World Book” from the Categories menu on the right of your screen.

For more information about the book or to purchase a copy, visit:

Here is the blurb from the back of the book:

“World music” emerged as a commercial and musical category in the 1980s, but in some sense music has always been global. Through the metaphor of encounters, Music and Globalization explores the dynamics that enable or hinder cross-cultural communication through music. In the stories told by the contributors, we meet well-known players such as David Byrne, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Ry Cooder, Fela Kuti, and Gilberto Gil, but also lesser-known characters such as the Senegalese Afro-Cuban singer Laba Sosseh and Raramuri fiddle players from northwest Mexico. This collection demonstrates that careful historical and ethnographic analysis of global music can show us how globalization operates and what, if anything, we as consumers have to do with it.Summary of the Volume:
In many ways the relatively recent phenomenon of “world music” has become the soundtrack for globalization, not only because it gives western consumers worry-free access to faraway places and sounds, but also because of the way that it mirrors the various sorts of extraction and appropriation that have come to be associated with late-industrial capitalism.  The idea of music as a soundtrack, however, does not go far enough in terms of explaining how cultural products actually function in a global era.  Like other forms of cultural production in the context of globalization, music is not merely a manifestation of global processes and dynamics, but one of the terrains on which globalization is produced.

In the last twenty years, there has been a significant amount of scholarship in the humanities and social sciences about popular music outside of the West.  In this emerging field of research, there have been important advances with regards to the historical analysis of music, an increased emphasis on the relationship between music and politics, and greater attention to national and regional identities. While it is true that recent research in anthropology and ethnomusicology is increasingly concerned with the relationship between various types of local and global musical forms, there is still relatively little research about the actual encounters—chance meetings, coordinated misunderstandings, ongoing collaborations—that bring together people of different musical or cultural backgrounds and the way these encounters condition musical practice and knowledge about the world.

This volume has two primary objectives.  First it sets out to show how the ethnographic analysis of musical encounters in cross-cultural settings can shed light on the cultural and political dynamics of globalization.  Second, it attempts to improve access to research and teaching materials on the critical study of globalization.  In order to accomplish these objectives—the critical analysis of globalization through the ethnographic study of music—the contributors to this volume have focused their analyses on global musical encounters and the way they are structured, mediated, and imagined.

The initial inspiration for this volume comes from Critical World, a virtual laboratory for teaching and research on music and globalization, with a strong emphasis on ethnography (  Critical World consists of a series of projects, each of which makes use of at least four different types of media (images, videos, sound and text) in novel and individual ways.  One of the objectives of the Critical World laboratory is to experiment with the spaces between different types of media and the publication of this volume is an important step in that direction, since most audio-visual material that accompanies published books serves the purpose of simply illustrating a theory or phenomenon.  Each of the texts in this volume will have an on-line multi-media module with references to the module embedded in the body of the text.  Readers will be able to interact with authors through the on-line module and in consultation with the author will be able to add text and audio-visual material of their own.

Some backround on the volume:Music and Globalization actually began as a series of papers coming out of a conference organized in late 2004 around a research project on the topic of world music and globalization.  The project, entitled Critical World, began as a website about questions having to do with the then still recent phenomenon of world music.  It gradually took on a life of its own turning into a kind of virtual laboratory for teaching and research on the relationship between music and globalization, with a strong emphasis on ethnography (the first phase of the project was funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council from 2003-2006).  There was a lot of interest in publishing the papers presented but a lot happened since then, and so this is not a conference volume.  Only half of the texts were presented at the conference and what is more interesting is the relationship between the manuscript and the virtual laboratory.


For downloading:

Book Cover

Front Matter (Table of Contents)



Lila Ellen Gray, American Ethnologist, 40/2, 2013, pp. 410-411

Bruce Johnson, Journal of World Popular Music, 1 (1): 130-132. 2014

Marie-Christine Parent, Cahiers d’ethnomusicologie, vol. 26, 2013

Monique Ingalls, Music & Letters, 95 (1): 145-147. 2014

Carolyn Elerding, Research in African Literatures, Volume 44, Number 3, Fall 2013, pp. 202-203


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