Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Dis-Orienting Rhythms:

Dis-Orienting Rhythms: the Politics of the New Asian Dance Music.

eds Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk and Ashwani Sharma, 1996 Zed books.

The image on the cover is from a Fun^Da^Mental album, Sieze the Time.

Blurring the boundaries between academic and cultural production, this book produces a new understanding of the world significance of South Asian cultural production in multi-racist societies. It writes back the presence of South Asian youth into a rapidy expanding and exuberant youth scene; and celebrates this as a dynamic expression of the experience of South Asian lives with an urgent political consciousness. One of the first sustained attempts to situate such production within the study of race and identity, it uncovers the crucial role that contemporary South Asian dance musics - from Hip-hop, Qawwali and Bhangra through Soul, Indi and Jungle - have played in the formation of a new urban cultural politics.

The book opens by positing new theoretical understandings of South Asian cultural representation that move beyond essentialist, outmoded and overdetermined accounts of ethincity in the cultural studies literature. Contributors then go on to narrate the formation of South Asian expressive culture coming out of the UK in a highly charged political context. Part three takes on the task of historical recovery, looking at the antecedents of political South Asian musical performance, autonomous anti-racist organising and problems of alliance with the white Left. The final part of the book engages with the movements and translations of cultural productions across the world, particularly in the fractured spaces of a postcolonial Britian in decline. In opposing all-too-easy 'world music' categorisations, the contributors also demonstrate throughout how the liberal alibi of multiculturalism can be challenged across the line of music and politics.

The book as a whole points to more productive ways of undertaking cultural study, a pedagogy committed to constructing forms of political engagement that do not reduce popular culture to the scrutinised Other or simply celebrate new expressive cultures as fragmented and hybrid. *For* a Black politics - this book is required reading for students and academics in cultural studies and social theory; as well as for everyone engaged in anti-imperialist, anti-racist struggles.

The image on the cover is from a Fun^Da^Mental album, Sieze the Time.

Dis-Orienting Rhythms is available from:
Zed books
7 Cynthis St, London N1 9JF
Tel. 0171 837 4014


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