The Impact of Gender and Local Identity on Vanuatu’s Digital Music Industry

Abstract : In Vanuatu, where new technologies are overlaid on social structures built on thousands of years of oral tradition, story and voice are important concepts. Musical exchanges are deeply embedded in the archipelago’s traditional culture and, alongside the old circulation systems of musical knowledge, the Internet and mobile phones have created new networks for the circulation of music. In the new millennium Vanuatu has experienced considerable development in digital technologies, with the arrival of the Digicel mobile telephone company in 2008. In the first decade of the 21st century mobile phone ownership rose from less than one percent to more than 50 percent of the population. The possibilities for digital storage have made the mobile phone an indispensable tool for young musicians. This paper explores how music and technology are converging in Vanuatu. Today, the nascent music industry in Vanuatu is a site of many conflicting forces. Young ni-Vanuatu men, and to a lesser extent women, are engaging with global media, as evidenced by the internationalization of the urban Fest’Napuan festival and action around this annual event, and the emergence of two provincial “sister” events. These twin dynamics—gender and the urban/rural—provide a lens to explore the ways that digital technology is shaping the future of the Vanuatu music “industry”. How are the modes of distribution and dissemination of music changing? In particular the authors explore the possible synergies between the emerging practice of transmedia production and the importance of story for ni-Vanuatu musicians. Does the participatory culture of transmedia storytelling resonate with the way urban and rural musicians in Vanuatu are representing themselves domestically and internationally? Are ni-Vanuatu musicians idiosyncratic transmedia producers? The authors examine the situation of young musicians in Port Vila, looking at how they use music to express identity with the resources available to them, and ways in which global elements are being co-opted by and with local ones.
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Submitted on : Monday, October 5, 2015 - 1:55:06 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 1:30:00 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-01211581, version 1



Monika Stern, Thomas Dick. The Impact of Gender and Local Identity on Vanuatu’s Digital Music Industry . Global Digital Humanities 2015, Jun 2015, Sydney, Australia. ⟨hal-01211581⟩



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