How a Colonial Perspective Works

Musicology in the West has relegated popular music to the non-serious realm. Therefore, African scholars, branded and sanctioned by metropolitan universities and departments of musicology, cannot afford to attend to the popular music of Africa.
The pattern repeats itself in language, although much more progress has been made there. The reaction of Jamaicans, Haitians, and Nigerians who speak a “patois” or “broken English” to any suggestion that those are languages worthy of study shows the great desire to identity with the metropolitan culture.
In an even more subtle way, a colonial mentality works on Westerners in regard to their own cultures: non-Western people are said to borrow traits and items and products from other societies, including the West, but when Germans borrow from the English or the Italians borrow from the Portuguese, the resultant culture trait is recognized as European or White, as in “White people do such and such” and the borrowers get full credit for the trait. Only Russians seem not to have escaped this mentality as they have the reputation in the West of having borrowed most of their serious culture.

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