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Individual Medium Post #1

The questions I would like you to engage with are as follows: 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. How might our understanding of Honolulu’s Chinatown change if we engaged this question of sound?

After reading the assigned texts, I was able to develop a better understanding of the relationship people have with one another and the role capitalism plays in the forming and breaking of relationships. In week 1, I had described capitalism as being built off of the idea of inequality or oppression. The goal of capitalism is to make oneself financially wealthier, even when it exploits other people. It has been very interesting to read about historical examples and see how capitalism is used as a tool to directly affect the relationships of different racial groups. An example of this is when the Hawaiian sugarcane plantation owners hired Chinese labor. This created a competitive environment between the two groups. While it created a rift in the relationship between the groups, it did incentivize them to work which then made more money for the plantation owners.

An example of the forming of relationships through soundscapes would be the Jamaican-Chinese contributions to reggae. Afro-Jamaicans were workers on the plantations. The plantation owners decided to bring in Chinese labor to break up the possibility of revolts. The Chinese laborers however were able to make a living in Jamaica. They opened shops where many Afro-Jamaicans would gather and listen to music. Here they were given the space to express creativity and create the style of Reggae music. While capitalism was used to segregate the two groups and force competition between them, the Chinese Jamaican and Afro-Jamaican communities combined their styles to create a new type of music. Overall capitalism has been used in the past to separate marginalized people from one another, not allowing them to form a relationship, it is a tool used by a dominant group to maintain power.

Soundscapes and sounds in general can be passed down from generation to generation and provide evidence from history and the on-goings of the time. They also can have a more negative effect; for example, when the plague hit Hawaii, Chinatown was quarantined. This shows how sounds can create stereotypes and racism amongst immigrants and minority groups, and these stereotypes and misconceptions can spread. This example shows the rift between different racial groups in America. However, the example in Jamaica shows a positive light on the unity of marginalized groups.