Sunday, April 5, 2009

Back's "New Ethnicities and Urban Culture," Part 1, Critical Review

In Chapter 8 of "New Ethnicities and Urban Culture," Back discusses the development of black leisure spaces, such as dance-halls, in post-war Britain and the subsequent restructuring of black working-class life.  He identifies the importance of dance-halls, and the sound systems in them, during periods of political strife, as the sound systems "become both a source of alternative news and an arena for black unity and autonomy." (p. 199-200)  The dance-halls are also important, according to Back, because they "provide a microcosm, controlled by black people, in which young black men and women work through in symbolic form the variety of their experiences, conflicts and desires." (p. 202)  The development of dance-halls in the UK was very important for the working-class blacks because it helped give them a place where racism was non-existent, where black was the host, and where history could be rewritten.

Question: Like how the dance-hall music of the UK began, were there any other types of music that started out by simply creating leisure spaces where people didn't have to worry about the struggles of day-to-day life?

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