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date: 20 November 2019


  • Kariann Goldschmitt


A concept for describing musical mixtures that are explicitly enmeshed in identity politics, most often involving racial and ethnic identity, and its effects on culture. As a concept, scholars and critics began using hybridity in music during the late 1980s and early 1990s as postcolonial and critical race theory expanded in influence in North American music scholarship. Previously, “hybrid” referred to mixture involving genre or form.

Early accounts pitted discourses of hybridity in music against authenticity, or musical purity, and multiculturalism (Gilroy, 1993; Lipsitz, 1997). This was especially the case for musicians who preferred to mix disparate genres from far-flung geographic locations, or for world music musicians who collaborated with pop musicians from the United States or Europe (Taylor, 1997). For example, the collaborations that formed the heart of Ry Cooder’s Cuban project were just as entangled with discourses of hybridity and authenticity as were Sérgio Mendes’s expressions of Brazilianness in the 1990s and 2000s. For the case of diasporic groups, theorizing hybridity in music provided scholars with a key to understanding political strategies and articulations of the ambiguity of simultaneously feeling connected to more than one place. Some scholars criticized world music and ethnic music hybrids in electronic dance music due to concerns that the producers were replicating colonial power imbalances through appropriation (Hutnyk, ...

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