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In 1989, in a significant article on “Globalization as Philosophical Issue,” cultural theorist Fredric Jameson elaborated some of the tensions between aspects of what he has identified throughout much of his career as “late capitalism.” Noting that the extent to which world markets now require “a global division of labour on an extraordinary scale,” he observes that, on the one hand, cultural difference can be asserted and celebrated to a larger extent than ever before, but, on the other, standardization on an unparalleled scale threatens “forced integration into a world system.” He clearly inclines to the latter (pessimistic) side of the equation, observing that “American mass culture, associated as it is with money and commodities, enjoys a prestige that is perilous for most forms of domestic cultural production.” While, like many ethnomusicologists, I am motivated to emphasize the distinctiveness and agency of local cultures, this article recognizes that it is less useful to take sides on the issue of standardization than to attempt to understand the intertwining factors that impinge on local cultural production. The attention I pay here to comparative recording aesthetics addresses such factors in relation to issues examined in the anthology's introduction. I explore, to some extent, the way contemporary Sami musicians have used the opportunities that modernity has presented in order to resist marginalization by drawing upon local aesthetics, indices of place as well as styles of social interaction, and archival memory. I agree with Wilson and Stewart's statement that “the major executives of the hegemonic media do not always define the terms of ‘excellence’ for Indigenous media makers. Indigenous artists and activists are using new technologies to craft culturally distinct forms of communication and artistic production that speak to local aesthetics and local needs while anticipating larger audiences.” By emphasizing comparative responses to distinct Indigenous processes, however, I hope to nuance the discussion, challenging a simplistic idea of “resistance” by insisting on the complex array of social contingencies, media memory, styles of relationality and cultural values that contribute to the divergent “readings” of Indigenous audio production in the digital era.
The triple themes of Performing Gender, Place, and Emotion in Music demonstrate
how important it is to see the connectedness of different concepts of embodiment. These culturally
variable terms of physicality and spirituality reach both inwardly toward the most intimate of human
sensations or emotion and outwardly to larger environments of place and space. These studies
demonstrate how social mediation occurs in relation to each of the three concepts, shaping behaviors
and expectations of how music, among other things, both represents and constitutes the ways that we
are embodied, emplaced, and “emotioned.”
These chapters evoked memories and stories from my own work. In Canadian studies, I had at one
point become interested in assertions about the gender of the nation-state as well as its provinces
or regions. I thought of various contested but evocative images, including a number of
nineteenth-century political cartoons depicting Canada as the demure maiden next to a matronly woman
representing Britain, for instance (unlike the masculinist Uncle Sam imagery of the United States).
I recalled Elspeth Probyn's argument that Quebec's mode of “outside
belonging” positions it as gay within Canadian identity constructs, an argument that
challenges the heterosexist “broken marriage” imagery that she saw in the
prereferendum period of the early 1990s. Ian McKay's contention that Nova Scotia was imaged
in the mid-twentieth century as a region of hardy males whose realm was the sea also came to mind.
These images and interpretations are arguably strategic and intentional assertions—not
necessarily discursive formations that are culturally reinscribed and shared by large numbers of