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?
Sound/soundscapes could give us a direction to think about how capitalism destroys our relationships to each other as well as how people continue to form new relationship with each other.
Capitalism and extra-coloniality are two key terms we should focus on when we are discussing these questions. According to Ruth Willson Glimore, capitalism is a relation. It describes the situation or system that people who control the industries and means of productions exploited people who are labors. This is a problem we have faced for centuries. I am not sure about the exact definition for extra-coloniality, but I believe it describes the connection and interaction between two groups of people in a colony, like Chinese and Jamaican people in Jamaica.
In Jamaica, sound/soundscapes are really important to people and culture. When Chinese came to Jamaica, they were considered as cheap labors. British colonists decided to use them to replace black labors who were emancipated. They were forced to signed oppressive contracts. After they escaped from the plantations. They opened many grocery stores in every area of this country. These shops not only provided sustenance but also provided music, which is a kind of spiritual support, since these Chiney shops had radio and many soundtrack equipment which were uncommon at that time. Gradually, Chinese people accumulated a great amount of wealth which allowed them to be relieved from the British colonial regulations. However, they were still facing many problems since they were never considered as part of Jamaica. They were considered as a threat to many Jamaican people since resources was limited and, as settlers, they took the resources and wealth which belonged to Jamaican people.
There were also many regulations which prohibited the connection and interaction of Chinese people and black people. These show how capitalism destroy the relationship between Chinese people and Jamaican people.
However, sound/soundscapes also helped the connection and interaction of Chinese people and Jamaican people. As mentioned above, the Chiney shops had radio and soundtrack equipment which could receive signals and play music. This made Chiney shops a place for people to gather together. People came here to enjoy the music and leisure. This created opportunities for Jamaican people and Chinese people to interact, even though there were regulations that prohibited it. Moreover, many reggae artists who were Chinese or non-Chinese descendants contributed a lot to reggae music, Jamaican culture, and further influenced the whole world. This also helped interactions between people and the integration process of Chinese immigrants. Therefore, sound/soundscapes are key to the relationship between Chinese immigrants and local people.
What happened in Honolulu Chinatown is similar with this. The relationship between Chinese immigrants and Hawaiian people was destroyed by capitalism intentionally. White settlers depicted Chinese people as a threat to Hawaiian people, and both of Chinese people and Hawaiian people were hurt by this. It is not clear that if there was any factor like music which could helped the interaction and relationship of them. If there was one like music for Jamaica, I think it would be really helpful for relieving the hatred and providing opportunities for eliminating misunderstandings.