- Rwanda Since the 1994 Genocide
Rwanda Since the 1994 Genocide


Mark LeVine: Music, Culture & Arab Spring

By kristi on February 11, 2013

Music as a source of unity and a vehicle for coherence is a concept that is seen across national histories, often as the impetus for mobilizing revolutionary movements.  In tonight’s lecture regarding the Arab Spring movement, Mark LeVine presented globalization as a large influence in the actual production and spreading of empowerment through music.  Oftentimes globalization is thought to have a negative connotation–one that reduces local culture, moves towards a homogenized image of modernization… essentially, a mode of assimilation to dominant Western discourses.  However,  LeVine spoke of globalization as a mode of connectivity, bringing in influences from a variety of nationalities and peoples, and coming together into a movement that because it is so loosely defined, no government has the capacity control.  This is powerful.  This, he articulates, is what allowed for its success.  Rather than the perception of globalization in a development discourse, that is, attempting to ‘modernize’ what the West perceives to be as ‘under-developed’ countries,  LeVine presents a narrative that refers more to the connectivity of the world through technology, which not only sustained the movement, but helped it to grow.  I think this is the difference between globalization as a force of cultural and virtual connection v. a force intended to seek capital gain.  As important a role technology plays, however, this is not to forget the actual overtaking spacial realities as part of the revolutionary movement as well.  It was also this connection of human beings through taking over a physical space for resistance that contributed greatly to this movement. (Sidebar: this reminded me very much of the Marxist notion of needing a manifested movement of social change… some sort of physical overhaul).  Ultimately, LeVine concludes that it was a combination of conquering the virtual and physical spaces that allowed for the movement’s success, as well as the capability to be overly critical but also hopeful.  This hope was often represented through music.  I think that this only makes sense, for without a notion or a belief that there will be a better tomorrow, what’s the rationale for what you’re fighting for today?

Finally, a parallel that I saw between this lecture and our class is the fact that when examining the social, political, economic, and historical spheres of the region, it only makes sense that this uprising took place.  I parallel this to the study of the background and context of the Rwandan genocide, and although it has been presented as an anomaly that sparked out of happenstance, we have understood the systematic planning going into it.  Of course I am not equating the two events (atrocity v. revolution) at all, but I think that it’s interesting to note that the pathways of political and historical events can be traced through a society when we start to look a bit deeper.

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