Birth of a Station: Broadcasting, Governance and the Waning Colonial State in Jamaica

TitleBirth of a Station: Broadcasting, Governance and the Waning Colonial State in Jamaica
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsBronfman, A
JournalSmall Axe
VolumeJuly
Issue44
Pagination36-52
Abstract

What accounts for the peculiar history of Jamaican broadcasting? This essay considers Kingston as a sonic terrain and examines the ways both colonial officials and residents of the islands engaged in a process of understanding Kingston’s place within an emerging electroacoustic soundscape with points in New York, Havana, Port-au-Prince, and London. The author relies on an implicitly comparative framework but is also interested in following people and things as they traveled between these places and instigated new sonic routes. The notion of the disposition of things animates this preliminary exploration of the politics of broadcasting. Concomitant with the reconfiguration of politics in the early twentieth century, the technologies that recorded and delivered information underwent a dramatic transformation, including, notably, the introduction of wireless. Receivers, transmitters, loudspeakers, words, and sounds become actants in this story. This essay looks at what difference they made in the waning moments of British rule in Jamaica and whether it might it be useful to attend to the role of sound in discussions of governance and colonial encounters.

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