Weeks 1 and 2: HILD 12
How might paying attention to sound/soundscapes help us think about all of the ways that capitalism destroys our relationships to each other, as well as about how people continue to form new relationships with each other? Think about this question by engaging Goffe’s concept of extra-coloniality.
Soundscapes help us think of all the ways that capitalism destroys our relationships as highlighted in Goffe’s piece of Jamaican soundscapes and the development of Chinese shops. Chinese shops and Jamaican sound systems were great methods of bringing various peoples of Jamaica together initially, but with the commercialization of Jamaican music, things fell apart.
Initially, the Chinese shop, or “Chiney shop”, were great locations of gathering for residents of Jamaica who could all come together. Music like R&B was played in Chinese shops that hosted sound systems, leading to a location for “shooting the breeze”. With the “Chiney shop”, Jamaica found new economic progress while also locations for social gathering and ethnic diversity — for instance, Joyce Gladwell recalls how her mother borrowed money from her local Chinese shopkeeper to attend college.
However, we see how capitalism destroys these positive relationships through commercialization. Individuals such as Thomas Wong, or Tom “the Great” Sebastian, were claimed by the Chinese as “Chinese-Jamaican”, ignoring his Afro-Jamaican heritage — the claiming of individuals as one ethnicity over another due to their highly esteemed status demonstrates in part how the Afro-Chinese/Jamaican culture was so intertwined, yet attacked by capitalism. In addition, we also see how Chinese individuals saw music as a relatively undesirable career, and how Chinese people were seen as exploiting black people unfairly, as they were the primary customer base. As such, capitalism was crucial in attacking race relations between the Afro-Chinese and Afro-Jamaicans.
How can you use the concept of settler colonialism to construct a new map of East Asia that links the histories of Hawaii and China to US and Japanese imperialism? What happens when you add the Caribbean and British imperialism to the mix (think back to Goffe)?
Settler colonialism is a concept wherein not only are resources stolen from the native peoples, but the land and demography is as well, in a form of replacement. This is a topic covered excellently in the class ETHN 2, which I highly recommend! New maps of Hawaii can most definitely be defined by US imperialism into it: the US not only took over Hawaiian land, but also refused them the right to citizenship, which led to sentiments such as the following: “You see the Hawaiians are . . . popularly known to be lazy, and they don’t have a tradition for literacy and they’re not the conscientious type, industrious type,”. This led to a sort of white man’s burden justification to settler colonialism, a type of supremacism in “elevating” the Hawaiians. As such, not only were the settlers in Hawaii white, but also Asian-American and generally of color as well. It is important to note the fact that although nonwhite immigrants to the territory of Hawaii were in fact considered minority groups by the United States, they were also most certainly a part in perpetuating the system of settler colonialism.
This concept of settler colonialism is also shown in China through the “Open Door Note”, wherein non-Chinese countries act “in the interest” of China by practically enforcing a unilateral trade treaty upon them to further the interests of foreign countries. In addition to imperialism by the United States, China also suffered from Japanese imperialism, leading to great displacement and further immigration to the United States.
When Caribbean and British imperialism is considered, a parallel to the Asian-American immigrations to Hawaii can be seen. The immigrations of the Chinese to Jamaica could have been seen as a form of settler colonialism as well, wherein the natives (Afro-Jamaican) were exploited by Chinese business owners through the “Chiney shop”, as mentioned earlier.