Globalisation And State Term Paper Topic Cultural Studies Essay










Ever since the emergence of the globalisation, humankind has seen the huge advancement in the world. Especially globalisation has led to the advancement of mass communication and technology. The present world order is highly dependent upon mass communication and technology. The advancement in the technology has led to the emergence of many new industries in all over the world, in which the music industry is one of them. Music industry has emerged in huge extent in the world with the advancement of technology, and with the emergence of music industry music has became one of the important part of each and everyone’s life.

Music has become one of the most influential tool to express someone’s view and ideas, every day new type or genre of music are being emerging in the world and which are been telecasted in the Television on daily basis. There are huge numbers of genres in the world of music and some of the most famous genres are American R n B, Rock, Heavy Metal, Hip-hop etc. Every types of genre carry their own ideas and theme. Like the Rock and the Heavy Metal, these genres are considered as the most radical genre in the world.

These genres are based especially on a theme against war, domination of Christianity etc. some of the major bands in these genre are Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Lamb of God, Megadeth etc. The lyrics of their songs directly challenge the ongoing practices in the societies like the ‘Sweating Bullet’, ‘Dread and the Fugitive Mind’, ‘Mastemind’ criticises the war and the possession of nuclear weapon by the Super Powers. There are lots of artist who challenge the ongoing practices in the world and had become popular in the world because of which they have the huge number of disciples of this genre throughout the world.

However, these were the artist or the musicians from the European or the American region but, what about the Subalterns? There are different forms of music in the subaltern world, as this music carries their ideas, culture, identity etc. artists like Bob Marley, K’naan, Mohan Veena etc. who belong from the subaltern world and are widely known for their contribution in the musical world. So the paper tries to highlights the music from the subaltern world, it firstly deals with the concept behind the music like Rastafari through interpreting the lyrics. This paper will also deal with the projection of oppression of the Europeans in the subaltern world through their music.

It will also try to seek what role globalisation has played for the music of subaltern world. And, how far the these music has been popular in the world. Not only the role of globalisation but the paper would also try to highlight the achievement of music from the subaltern world. As the globalisation is never a one-way traffic, so it will also try to seek the contribution of these music to the world music.


The term ‘subaltern’ in international relations has been using to denote the marginalised or subjugated society in the world. The word was popularized by an Italian scholar Antonio Gramsci, his understanding of subaltern means to those communities who lacks the autonomy in political sphere. But his idea of subaltern is not only limited in political sphere, he also argued that the subalternity exist in the broader scale, it also includes the people from different religion, cultures or to those from the marginalised society (Kylie Smith 2010: 39). Gramci, basically tried to denote the ‘proletariat’ or the working class by using the word subaltern who were marganilised in society by the ‘bourgeois’, it was mostly based upon the inequality in terms of the economic factor.

With the Gramcian broader understanding of the word term subaltern, we have been able to understand that it refers to those who are marginalised in the world. However, it is more difficult to identify the subalterns in the era of the globalisation. It is not only the ‘subaltern’, whereas it is ‘subalterns’ in the present era of globalisation. There has been an enormous complexity to identify the subalterns in a globalised world.

While understanding the subalternity in the international relations, one can identify the subalterns through the differentiation in terms of location i.e. the West and the East. Though it is the traditional way of understanding the subalterns in the international relations but has huge relevance. It was divided or distinguished based on race of white of the west and the east. Said in his work "Orientalism" pointed out that how the west projected the east through television, paintings, poetries etc. The western concept knowledge became the stereotype, the division of the west and the east was based upon the questions of ‘oxidant’ and ‘orient’ (Edward Said: 1978). The very constructed knowledge of the west projected the east as barbarian, uncivilised, etc. The west tried to universalised their notion of understanding the east in the international relations.

Gayatri Spival Chakraborty, further extended that how the subaltern has been subjugated and marginalised in international relations, (Gayatri Spivak Chakrobarty:1988). For her, subalterns are voiceless in the international relations, and they cannot speak in international arena.

Postcolonialism as a theory in international relations has brought the broader vision of subaltern studies. The fundamental question of postcolonialism is "how would be the world history from the postcolonial perspective?"(John Baylis, Steve Smith and Patricia Owens: 2010). The postcolonialism mostly focuses on the inequality in the world history, they reject the notion of the word term ‘Third World", which is totally a western concept and has led to the discrimination in the world history. History till today has been the European history and has no place for the so called Third World Countries, here one can see the clear cut discrimination. The emergence of the modern history is totally dominated by the European history, here Edward Said has given attention that how the western knowledge was nurtured throughout the world and tried to create a universal knowledge which make the west superior and the rest as subalterns (Edward Said: 1978).

However, the word subaltern is not only based upon the territorial understanding, it has gone beyond postolonialism, because the postcolonialism emphasises on the territorial division, like it highlights the problems of the Asian, African, Middle East, Latin American region. It also highlights the distinction between the privileged Global North and the marginalised South. Hence, it has been cleared that it is only limit till the territorial distinction.

There are emerging global phenomena in the international relations, which are subaltern and are marginalised in the international politics. Firstly, I would like to draw the attention in the emergene of the social movement in the international relations. The gender division in the world politics has led to the discrimination between the feminine and the masculine gender, the knowledge was constructed in such a manner in the international relations that the feminine gender projected as inferior.

The feminist movement was started against the discrimination to the feminist gender in the world politics, their main agenda was based upon the participation of feminine gender in the political sphere of the international relations. They claim that the world politics is too biased towards the masculine gender and all power and political sphere were dominated by them. As Virgina Woolf describes in her work how men dominate socially and physically to women (Woolf: 1929 ). It challenges the mainstream theory of international which are biased towards the feminine, the power politics concept of Hans J. Morgenthau has been challenged by J. Ann. Tickner in her book "". The political and the power sphere has been dominated by men (masculine) where the feminine gender have been totally sidelined.

Though he idea of the subalterns has gone beyond the traditional understanding (territorial and geographical), it has become the identity of those oppressed and subjugated community. However, in this paper the focus would be given to the African and the Asian region.


Defining music is very complex as it varies it meaning from time and place. Claude Debussy "Music is the space between the notes" while, for Richard Middleton music means "Form is supposed to cover the shape or structure of the work; content its substance, meaning, ideas, or expressive effects. When the nineteenth-century music critic Eduard Hanslick declared, in an influential phrase, that music is 'forms put into motion through sounds,' he was suggesting that music's real content lies in its form". Therefore, it has no single definition however, in simple words it can be understand as the combination of seven notes managed in a uniform pattern.

Here, the subaltern music does not only deal with the notes, tabs or patterns, but it deals with the ideas, interest, and culture of their society. Subaltern music basically refers to the form of a music of the subaltern societies, like the music of Africa, Asia and the Latin America. The special about this music is not only the commercialisation of their music rather it carries their ideology, cultures etc. like the Rabindra Sangeet (one of the musical form of India), which tries to spread the idea of nationalism. One can also take the example of Rastafari music, which was stated from the Caribbean island of Jamaica and which extended the Rastafari Movement in huge extent. This music has contributed lot in their societies for awareness and to resist the culture of outside world.


As we all know that the most of the subalterns in the international relations were the colonies of the European colonial empire for more than 200 years. And as a concept the subaltern studies is a critique to the colonialism, but how this ideas are reflected in the music of the subalterns? Most of the music in the African and Asian region has developed the ideas against the colonialism, they criticises the western concept. Most importantly, they brought the idea of anti-colonial nationalism among their community. The anti-colonial nationalism was developed in the post war era and during the period of decolonisation in international relations mostly in African and Asian region against being subdued by the foreign powers (colonial masters). Benedict Anderson argued that anti-colonial nationalism is grounded in the experience of literate and bilingual indigenous intellectuals fluent in the language of the imperial power, schooled in its "national" history, and staffing the colonial administrative cadres up to but not including its highest levels. Post-colonial national governments have been essentially indigenous forms of the previous imperial administration (Benedict Anderson 1983: 37).

Music played a huge role in African region, and it critises the colonial power, like the Rastafari music which was popularised by Bob Marley in 1970s and 1980s which was an extension to the Rastafari movement started in Jamaica. Bob Marley began his career in Rastafaranism with Reggae, it was born amidst poor blacks in Trenchtown, the main ghetto of Kingston, Jamaica. Marley was one of the critique to the colonialism with his song and his music (Stephen A. King 2002: 12), alongside his songs was to unite Africa and to show what the colonial masters did with them?

Buffalo Soldier, Dreadlock Rasta:

There was a Buffalo Soldier in the heart of America,

Stolen from Africa, brought to America,

Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival.

This is one of the most famous song of Bob Marley, which states the history of the Buffalo Soldiers, who were a segregated regiment of black cavalry fighters during the American campaign to rid the West of "Indians" so that "civilized" white people could gain the lands used by Native Americans. Ironically, many of the soldiers were slaves taken from Africa. Bob Marley gives a small history lesson as a protest song about the black man's role in building the country that continues to oppress him ( accessed on 12/10/12). And he has stated how these Buffalo Soldiers was used to win war in his song.

I'm just a Buffalo Soldier in the heart of America,

Stolen from Africa, brought to America,

Said he was fighting on arrival, fighting for survival;

Said he was a Buffalo Soldier win the war for America.

Not only the Rastafari musician criticises the oppressions done by their colonial masters but there are other African musician too who expressed their views regarding the colonial oppressions. Like K’naan one of the most famous musician from Somalia state in his song:

So many wars, settlin' scores,

bringing us promises, leaving us poor,

I heard them say, love is the way

love is the answer, that's what they say

But look how they treat us, make us believers

we fight their battles, then they deceive us

try to control us, they couldn't hold us

'cause we just move forward like Buffalo soldiers

The oppression of the black community was mostly highlighted in the songs of the African musician. Music became one of the tool against the oppressions done by the European in Africa. Lucky Dube is a reggae artist from South Africa singing in a fight against oppression in his country. Like Jamaica, South Africa has been oppressed since the days of the European colonizers. Reggae as served and serves as a political tool in South Africa. Lucky Dube does not involve himself in Rastafarian musings but concentrates on the political injustice so the world will know the problems his country has faced. Reggae has been an important vehicle for the fight against the injustice of the blacks in Jamaica. They inform the population of their feelings against the government through reggae. The idea of reggae for Lucky Dube is that it is an impressive political tool. He has been able to speak his mind about the problems of South Africa through his music. Like his Jamaican counterparts, Dube has used reggae to get his message across the world. He has traveled all over the world with his message (Erin Kenny: accessed on 7/10/12).

Look in the eyes of the homeless man

Tell me what you see

In the eyes of a jobless man

Tell me what you see

What about the eyes of the prisoner

What do you see

Now you’ve seen it all

It is time to make up your own mind

Reggae has become one of the major tool against oppression in Jamaica and in South Africa, it slowly got its importance in the other part of the world and the musicians started speaking against the exploitation and oppression by the Europeans since three four centuries. Not only to speak against the exploitation and the oppression, Rastafari also involved in the politics of their society, Bob Marley during the election in the Jamaica in 1972, supported Micheal Manley. Because of the Bob Marley’s fame and support Micheal Manley won the election with huge margin and became the Prime Minister of Jamaica but soon after the election Bob Marley decided stay away of politics due to which the united Jamaica was divided between Manley’s Peoples National Party and Jamaican Labour Party headed by Edward Seaga in 1976. It was very violent time in the country, and Marley while remaining neutral in politics tried to make peace in the country through his song ‘One Love’(Stephen A. King 2002: 79 – 105). His main idea of this song was to spread a message to everyone to stop the fight and become one. The lines of the song in his own word:

One love, one heart

Let's get together and feel all right

Hear the children crying

Hear the children crying

Sayin', "Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right."

Sayin', "Let's get together and feel all right."

Marley also highlighted the social condition of the black community; his first greatest hit song was based on the social condition of woman in Jamaica and African region. With his song "No Women No Cry", he put forwarded the idea of social condition of women. The actual lyrics of the song is No, Women Nuh Cry and ‘Nuh’ means don’t in Jamaica. so what is meant by the lyric is No, Woman, Don't cry, so he is leaving and reassuring her that the slum they live in won't get her down, that everything will be alright and "don't shed no tear"( accessed on 4/11/12).

I remember when a we used to sit

In a government yard in Trenchtown,

Oba – oba serving the hypocrites as it was

Mingle with the good people we meet,

Good friends we have, oh, good friends we have lost

Along the way, yeah!

In this great future, you can't forget your past;

So dry your tears, I say

No, woman, no cry;

No, woman, no cry.

A little darlin', don't shed no tears:

No, woman, no cry.

It is not only the music from Africa which tried to came against the oppression done by its colonial masters, whereas there are music from other parts of the world which also tries to highlights the problems of their society and try to mobilise the people. Rabindra Sangeet is one of the musical form of India which was started by Rabindra Nath Tagore, this music has played most important role in mobilising the people of India during the period of nationalist movement. "Ekla Chalo Re" is the one of the famous song of the Rabindra Sangeet, which literary means to walk alone. The song was first came 1905 in Bhandar Magazine, it became so popular in common mass in India and mobilised the people towards the nationalism. Another songs like "Amar Shonar Bangla" and "Tumi Sundhara Meghmala", tries to highlight the rich culture of Bengali and the beauty of the otherland.

Therefore, in the subaltern world the music has played a huge role in shaping its country, community and society. The music from Asia to Africa has played huge role during the colonial period as well as in post-colonial period. It became the instrument to unite its people and to spread awareness in common mass.


Over the period of time the identity of subaltern societies have been the important issue in the international relations. The emergence of the Subaltern Studies was based upon the identity of the subalterns in the international relations, it tried to highlight the inequality between the First World and the Third World countries. The western concept of understanding the international relations have created the concept or the idea ‘self’ and ‘other’ in the international relations (Edward Said: 1978). The political, social and the cultural identity of the subaltern societies has been questioned in the international relations. However, the fundamental aspect of this paper is to see the impact of globalisation in the subalterns’ music.

With the advent of globalisation in international relations, there had been the huge transfer of people, capitals, ideas, cultures etc. Regarding the spread of music the globalisation has played huge important role in the world. The western rock music has spread throughout the globe but the question remains that what role did globalisation played for the music of subalterns? Answering the question firstly, one should see the theoretical argument of the cultural globalisation. Cultural globalisation refers to "the emergence of a specific set of values and beliefs that are largely shared around the planet" (Castells, 2009, p. 117). The culture flows because of the emergence of mass media, mass media is even regarded as the synonymous of the cultural globalisation (Lauren Movius: 2002). However, in the new era people have become more conscious about their culture, globalisation has created the consciousness among each and every individual regarding their culture and the individuals are more concerned about the uniqueness of their culture(Christopher John Farley 2007: 20).

The music of the subaltern societies was the music of their own locality and their society it was no longer the music of the world and moreover it was only within certain territory. The Rastafari music which was firstly started in the Caribbean island of Jamaica was the music of their but with the globalisation it has spread all over the world and has become the successful music throughout the world. The Rastafari music not only create the consciousness within Jamaica but it spread throughout the globe. During the period of 1960s – 1970s the Rastafari music was spread in the United States of America, England, France and the African nations (Jeremie Kroubo Dagnini: accessed on 26/10/12). Now, in the present era the Rastafari music has got worldwide fame and has spread all over the world. Because of the globalisation the message of Bob Marley’s ideas has spread throughout the world that "Bob Marley’s music gave the world peace, love and redemption. He proved that we can live as one. He is an idol to millions of people, and to this day his music remains, and always will – universal and timeless" ( accessed on 25/10/12) and because of it Bob Marley T-shirt has become the one of the most demanded brand in the world market.

K’naan’s song the "Waiving Flag" has also got the popularity throughout the world because of the advancement in the technology and media. His song was declared as the official Anthem for 2010 FIFA World Cup. It was casting on every channel during 2010 FIFA World Cup.

It is not only the African music, which has been facilitated by the globalisation, even the music from other section of the world has been spread in the world. The fame of Indian Classical music has gone beyond its boundaries due to the transfer of culture. Not, only the fame the Indian classical music has been the most favoured music in the world and has been demanded in all over the world especially the western countries. The Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth (SPIC MACAY) is one of the NGO comprised by the Classical artist in India are now being invited to perform in the western countries. Recently, Dr. Aruna Mohanty, a classical Odisi dancer and one of the member of SPIC MACAY of was invited to perform in Germany to perform and the flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia was invited to perform in Philadelphia, United States ( accessed on 2/11/12). one of the famous song of Rabindra sangeet has been It shows how much Indian Classical music has became popular in the world.

Globalisation has given popularity to the music of the subaltern world, where this music seeks to puts the agenda of its society in the world. In addition, this music is being appreciated throughout the world, the music from the so-called "orient" societies are being honoured by the society who claim to be "occident".One can clearly see the achievement of these music, in 1967 Pandit Ravi Sankar (Indian Classical Sitar player) was honoured by the highest musical award of the world ‘Grammy’. In the past, the Grammy was dominated by the western music, but Pandit Ravi Sankar sets a new record to win the award. Moreover, the Indian Classical Tabla player Zakir Hussian in 1992 and Mohan Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (Indian Classical Hawaiian Guitar player) 1994 were honoured with the Grammy award for their contributions in the music. Recently, one of the most famous musician of India A. R. Rehman has achieved the Grammy, but not only the Grammy he was also honoured by the awards like Golden Gloves and Oscar ( accessed on 6/11/12). It is interesting to observe the category of awards on which the former awardees and him. All the former awardees were honoured with their instrumental performance but it is not in case of Rehman. He was awarded for the music composition in a song titles "Jai Ho", which is a Hindi song. It shows spread of the Indian song in the world and its impact.

The impact of Globalisation in the music of the subaltern world has been fruitful towards them. It is because of the globalisation that the music from India, Africa spread all around the world and are being appreciated. But, one should also see what these music has contribute towards the rest of the world? Firstly the contribution of the music from the subaltern societies is that it gave the new genre to the world music like Reggae, which was popularized by Rastrafari musician. Due to the globalisation it was spread all over the world and accept as the new genre in the world music. Most importantly the first sound system was emerged in Jamaica in 1950s, before it the world was unknown with the musical sound system. And after the spread of the Rastafari music the musical sound system was started using in the live performance in all over the world (Christopher John Farley 2007: 37).

Indian classical musicians and singers have played a great role in popularizing Indian music all across the world. They have enriched the world of music and enthralled the audiences with their masterful artistry. The new instruments like Sitar, Tabla, Santoor, Tanpura, etc was contributed by the Indian musician which is now most popular instruments among the westerns musician( accessed on 10/11/12). As culture is no longer associated with a fixed locality rather it gains new meanings in a global context (Yi Wang 2007: 85), music also has no longer associated with the fixed locality or region it has spread all around the world.


It has been cleared that the globalisation has played a huge role in the music of subaltern world, because the music or the genres, which was unknown in the world now, has become the famous, like already discussed above about the Reggae and the Indian Classical music. The globalisation has reshaped and retuned the music of the subalterns in the world, now even in the western music channels like MTV the genre like Reggae is being broadcasting on regular basis. Most importantly the advancement of social networks in internet has facilitated these genres the most.

However, the music of the societies has changed a bit because of the gloabalisation. As it is a transfer of culture from one place to another the musicians specially from Africa, India has started playing the western instrument. But, this adaption of the western instrument in their musical form has facilitated their music in the world. Like Guitar has been adopted in the Indian Classical music, it did not changed the genre rather polished the music more. Because of the adaption of the western instrument the fame of the Indian classical music has gone beyond its boundaries. ‘Shakti’ one of the most prominent Indian classical band has a huge fan following in the world because of their experimental fusion of Indian Classical and the Western music.

The globalisation has created the hybridisation of the music of the subaltern world, however, this hybridisation of music has popularised the music of the subaltern societies in the world, the typical Reggae of Jamaica is not much popular like the Reggae which has been popularised by the Rastafari musicians. This shows the globalisation of culture and its adoption by the different communities in the world.