Transcultural decoloniality, global hip hop and reflexive narrative analysis

Singh, Jaspal (2022). Transcultural decoloniality, global hip hop and reflexive narrative analysis. In: Solange, Maria Barros and Resende, Viviane eds. Coloniality in Discourse: A Radical Critique. London: Routledge, pp. 136–154.



Drawing on a decade of studying narrative and voice in Indian hip hop culture, this chapter asks to what extent the category of ‘transculturation’ can remain relevant for the current decolonial turn in discourse studies. Originally coined in the literary critique and cultural analysis of the colonial aftermath in Latin America, transculturation at once points to transformation, transgression and transcendence. I argue that a renewed attention to transculturation can help decolonise our academic activities and activism and advance a critique of the modern/colonial world order and its hegemonic epistemologies, methodologies and practices. A decolonial turn in discourse studies is necessary for three reasons: (1) expanding the global reach of the critical analysis of discourse, (2) including more researchers and students from previously colonised spaces and (3) formulating southern theories that can properly interrogate current global cultural flows. Drawing on my ethnographic experiences of studying hip hop cultural expression in India, the chapter presents an analysis of one narrative – or story – told by the Indian rapper Manmeet Kaur. I show of Manmeet and I co-construct a narrative about global hip hop transculturation and evaluate this story according to a logic of decoloniality. I will also consider how my later analysis of Manmeet’s story ‘back home in the armchair’ re-emphasised modern/colonial ways of analysing ‘the data’ that I had collected in India. Through these ethnographic reflections and ethical examinations, I will try to formulate a southern theory of transcultural decoloniality – i.e., a way of studying hip hop that is sensitive to the transformation, transgression and transcendence of modern/colonial discourses. While my approach to studying global hip hop remains tentative and comes with its own contradictions and dilemmas, I believe that it can help students of discourse to reimagine old connections and build new intersectional solidarities between Latin American decolonial thinking and cultural expressions and narratives elsewhere in the postcolonial world.

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