From Appalachia to China: banjos and the guzheng

Cultural Globalization is as important as political and economic globalization, and yet sometimes receives less media and popular attention.  It can also be a useful tool to introduce students to the idea of globalization. I have a colleague who teaches the “Introduction to International Studies” class at a local community college. He begins each class with a sampling of global music, such as West African fusion or Botswana jazz. He thinks that it helps to focus the students on the content of the class. Music is like food, a touch point that everyone shares, which can share as a place to start a conversation about globalization.

We’re all familiar with fusion music, which blends genres, but there are some truly unexpected combinations. Since I like bluegrass -and am studying Chinese- a colleague introduced me to Wu Fei and Abigail Washburn’s music, which combines the the banjo to combine with the guzheng. Their album is available on Spotify. …

The Murder of Musicians in South East Asia

In my most recent episode of my podcast, Dispatch 7, I interviewed Dr. Priya Kapoor about the murder of musicians in South Asia. Priya was able to put these murders into a larger historical and religious context in the region, while at the same time showing the commonalities between different South Asian states. In the show notes you can find YouTube videos (which she kindly shared with me) of different musicians performing, as well as the citation for her new book chapter on the topic.

I posted the podcast episode last night before I went to bed, and by the morning people had already found and listened to it. I think that this will be a popular episode. In upcoming episodes I will be talking to an expert on Indigenous Science Fiction and a Chinese language learner. Please check back in two weeks for the next episode.

Shawn Smallman

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