Welcome to the first volume of the Norient academic online journal! From bikutsi over funk carioca and gospel to the urban soundscapes of mp3-blogs this issue presents four fascinating articles spanning fieldwork in Germany, Ghana, Cameroon, Brazil and the virtual mp3-blogsphere. Besides the focus on popular music these articles are united in their reflexive approach to the fieldwork involved.
Expanding on previous research like that of Jeff Todd Titon’s (1985) thoughts around stance and identity in Pentecostal churches Florian Carl reflects on his role as an ethnographer sharing the same social space as the subjects of research in his article «‹Never Go Back› – Ghanaian Gospel Music, Born-Again Christianity, and the Nonconformity of the Ethnographer». At the same time he explores how gospel music in Born-Again Christian churches in Germany and Ghana are part of a «cosmopolitan Pentecostal-Charistmatic public sphere» (Carl 2012). Anja Brunner also draws on the concept of cosmopolitanism in her article «Local Cosmopolitan Bikutsi – Encountering Cameroonian Pop Music in Yaoundé and the Challenge of Similarity» by showing that parts of Western popular music used within bikutsi popular music is perceived as equally indigenous Cameroonian as local traditional music. This effects the ethnographers’ approach by broadening what musics should be considered indigenous and local.
Moving across the Atlantic ocean the authors Gregory Scruggs and Alexandra Lippman explore how governmental politics and infrastructure changes reshape Rio de Janeiro’s soundscapes. They specifically focus on funk carioca (also known as baile funk) in their article «From Funkification to Pacification: Re-Sounding Space For a New Rio de Janeiro». The final stop of this first volume is virtual: Portia Seddon explores a new form of Otherness emerging from mp3-blogs which both feature vintage recordings («record digging») as well as remixed dance music («global ghettotech» – Marshall 2007). In her article «MP3 Blogging and the Urban Soundscape: Notes on the Ethnography of Mediated Music» she also continues the discussion surrounding the role of the ethnographer and the blurring of the boundaries between the researched and the researcher.
These articles thus show that a nuanced view is important to understand cultural processes of the 21st century. As the authors demonstrate this can only be done by critically reflecting on their (and our) own role as researchers and by developing new tools and methods to deal with the challenges the various fields present.
Finally, I would like to thank all the authors who submitted abstracts as well as the Norient academic online journal editorial team. A special thanks goes to the anonymous peer-reviewers who read the article drafts and gave the authors constructive and important feedback.
Brunner, Anja (2012): «Local Cosmopolitan Bikutsi – Encountering Cameroonian Pop Music in Yaoundé and the Challenge of Similarity». Norient Academic Online Journal 1. norient.com/academic/local-cosmopolitan-bikutsi (URL accessed on 22.05.2012).
Carl, Florian (2012): «‹Never Go Back› – Ghanaian Gospel Music, Born-Again Christianity, and the Nonconformity of the Ethnographer». Norient Academic Online Journal 1. norient.com/academic/ghanaian-gospel (URL accessed on 22.05.2012).
Lippman, Alexandra; Scruggs, Gregory (2012): «From Funkification to Pacification: Re-Sounding Space For a New Rio de Janeiro». Norient Academic Online Journal 1. norient.com/academic/rio-funk-2012 (URL accessed on 22.05.2012).
Marshall, Wayne (2007): «Global Ghettotech vs. Indie Rock: The Contempo Cartography of Hip». wayneandwax.com/?p=205 (URL accessed on 19.05.2012).
Seddon, Portia (2012): «MP3 Blogging and the Urban Soundscape: Notes on the Ethnography of Mediated Music». Norient Academic Online Journal 1. norient.com/academic/mp3-blogging-ethnography (URL accessed on 22.05.2012).
Titon, Jeff Todd (1985): «Stance, Role, and Identity in Fieldwork among Folk Baptists and Pentecostals in the United States». American Music 3(1):16-24.