Monday, February 17, 2014

Robin Cohen, "Creolization and Cultural Globalization: The Soft Sounds of Fugitive Power" -- excerpt

Creolization and Cultural Globalization: The Soft Sounds of Fugitive Power

University of Warwick

Submitted to Special Issue of Globalizations Vol. 4 (2) 2007 (forthcoming May 2007) edited by Barrie Axford. Published by Routledge ISSN 1474-7731.

While it is true to assert that creolization had its locus classics in the context of colonial settlement, imported black labour and often a plantation and island setting, by indicating that there are other pathways for creolization I want to signify the potentially universal applicability of the term. To be a Creole is no longer a mimetic, derivative stance. Rather it describes a position interposed between two or more cultures, selectively 19 appropriating some elements, rejecting others, and creating new possibilities that transgress and supersede parent cultures, which themselves are increasingly recognised as fluid. If this is indeed happening we need to recast much traditional social theory concerning race and ethnic relations, multiculturalism, nation-state formation and the like – for we can no longer assume the stability and continuing force of the ethnic segments that supposedly make up nation-states. Likewise, we cannot assume that the nation in international relations has a continuously uniform character. Accepting the force of hybridity and creolization is also to accept that humankind is refashioning the basic building blocks of organised cultures and societies in a fundamental and wide-ranging way.

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he creolization of the world in the sense described by Hannerz and other writers cited earlier has provided a space for many people to create a new sense of home, a locus to express their uniqueness in the face of cultural fundamentalisms and imperialism. Behind the strident assertions of nationalism, ‘old ethnicities’ and religious certainties is an increasing volume of cultural interactions, interconnections and interdependencies and a challenge to the solidity of ethnic and racial categories. These are the soft sounds of fugitive power, but you may need to have your ear cocked to the ground, or your finger on the pulse, if you are to fully hear them and discern their influence.

"Fugitive power" defined in Note 1: "1. The notion of ‘fugitive power’ is used by Katherine Farrell (2004) to describe modes of democratic power operating beyond the reach of the law. In developing the concept, she (personal correspondence) acknowledges a Foucaultian analysis on constitutional reform written by her colleague, John Morison. Foucault’s views need more detailed exposition, but in one germane passage he suggests that power is ‘produced from one moment to the next, at every point, or rather from one point to another. Power is everywhere; not because it embraces everything, but because it came from everywhere’ (Foucault 1978: 923)."

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