From SHOUTcast Radio Blog:
Posted on Mar 1st 2010 10:30AM by Amar Toor
At last week’s 2010 International Reggae Conference, Jamaican Culture Minister Olivia Babsy Grange warned that unless concrete actions are soon taken to reclaim reggae, Jamaica may run the risk of “losing its grip” on the very musical genre it created. As The Jamaica Observer reports, Grange warned that “each day more and more of the music is owned, created and distributed by non-Jamaicans outside of Jamaica,” threatening the island country’s claim to its cultural heritage. While Grange acknowledged that international reggae festivals are “a tribute to the strength of the music, we must acknowledge that more of these shows can now take place with fewer Jamaican artistes on the roster.”
Grange called for more creative initiatives aimed at developing a better infrastructure to support Jamaican music, and for maximizing the potential that digital technology offers the genre. As she said, “Indeed, while digital technology has flown the gate for the pirates, it has also created a power shift as creators can have a greater control over their content. No longer is there need for exclusive relationships. Traditional record companies are disappearing, like travel agencies, in favour of online arrangements and home-based studios.”
From an economic perspective, too, Grange emphasized the importance of fostering Jamaica’s creativity. “Creativity represents one of Jamaica’s most distinguishable assets and competitive advantages as a country,” the Minister said. “Through its music, fashion, dance and cuisine, Jamaican culture continues to influence and impact global pop culture… Jamaica’s exploitation of this sector is vital if it is to realise development gains from international trade.”
She finished with a powerful reminder to the audience of the critical importance to maintaining something so dear to Jamaican culture. She reminded that Jamaicans “must never forget that a people’s worth is often measured by what they have created or simply by what they own. A country that celebrates the two fastest men in the world will be respected. A country with a product of international reputation and renown will be revered. We are here today because we know and revere the international product we call Reggae”…
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My take is a bit different: No one can control or “own” cultural expressions, though they do, of course, have a history. But they do not belong exclusively to a certain “birthplace” or possess an unchanging authenticity.
They are meant to be enjoyed, appreciated, creatively altered, and copied. As Dawkins-like “memes,” they spread among those who appreciate, adopt, and adapt them to signify their evolving identity.