Individual Medium Post #1

Angela Lee
3 min readApr 20, 2021

The movement of cultures, communities, and (ideas) could entail increasing tensions in a capitalist society due to the fear of a larger power losing its ability to monopolize a resource. This larger power can be referred to as colonialists, such as Britain or the US, and their system of racial capitalism would change the ways East Asian communities and indigenous communities interact. Racial capitalism, if we consider it in Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s perspective from “Geographies of Racial Capitalism”, provides insight on how the history of racism and slavery influenced the underlying economic goals of the colonialists. The ultimate goal was to divide different geographies, but further evidence suggests that capitalism brought these communities together as well. The movement of other nations, which will be seen through the concept of extra-coloniality, and their need to challenge colonialist powers, which is synonymous to the goals of “abolitionist geographies”, was a crucial element for their unification.

The relationship between the movement of a people and capitalism can be observed through Jamaican soundscapes when Chinese communities in Jamaica merged with the Afro-Jamaican communities. Geoff’s “Bigger Than the Sound: The Jamaican Chinese Infrastructure of Reggae” details the transformation of Jamaican economy as one that became dominated by “Chiney shops”. It was through these shops both Asian and Jamaican communities would gather and subsequently produced reggae musical culture. Geoff also highlights this concept of extra-coloniality as “unexpected” because the intent to allow Chinese immigrants was so that their communities would be divided and the colonialist rule would be dominant. Ironically, capitalism brought these communities closer together. Allowing a cultural exchange backfired for the colonialists who sought to replace Jamaican workers with the Chinese. However, Geoff also makes the case that extra-colonialism eventually divided the Afro-Jamaican and Jamaican-Chinese communities. Since reggae was high in demand (in terms of economic value), this brought the argument of who would take credit for the origins of reggae. Local Jamaicans also questioned how much more the Chinese are profiting from their overwhelming number of small businesses. Naturally, these thoughts divided the community, and we can see further division through the implementation of radio circling back to the observance of soundscapes.

We can apply the concept of sound or media with the emergence of Chinatown in Honolulu, mostly in the form of propaganda. Two events in Hawaii that encapsulate the manipulation of an immigrant class to divide the Asian immigrants from the indigenous communities are when the US aimed to replace native Hawaiian plantation workers with the Chinese and the 1899 bubonic plague in Chinatown. The first event is similar to Jamaica’s case, where the colonialist power, in this case Americans, wanted to replace the native Hawaiian workers with Chinese immigrants. Dean Saranillio defines this as “Settler Colonialism” in his work “Native Studies Keywords”. The US made a case that immigrant workers were less lazy compared to the natives in hopes that any tensions among classes would remain within those two communities. Now the Chinese were becoming more prevalent in Honolulu and we see another case of extra-colonialism, where we see an unexpected emerging economic power. This leads to the propaganda behind the 1899 bubonic plague where extra racism and discrimination depicted the Chinese as the source of the disease and unhealthy environment. Being faced with this discrimination, the Chinese recognized the need to unify their community with the Hawaiian and Japanese communities. One such ability to unify their communities is the establishment of schools that would educate Chinese, Hawaiian, and Japanese students. Once again, we can see that the use of speech and advertisement unified the Hawaiians and East Asians to challenge the systems dictated by their colonialist powers.

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