Return to the Echo Chamber

Race, Sound and the Future of Community (Excerpt)


  • Louis Chude-Sokei Boston University



roots, sound, race, African diaspora, ruins


Jamaican sound system culture has long grounded my work because it foregrounds race due to much of the lyrical and ideological content, and technology via the obsession with sonic reproduction. Over twenty years after first establishing these connections, a return to them is clearly overdue given their rootedness in immigrant sub-cultures and counter-publics. However, as described by Martiniquan theorist, Edouard Glissant, this return cannot be motivated by “a longing for origins, to some immutable state of being”, but instead must be towards “the point of entanglement”, to where we discovered the complexities and contradictions in the first place. For me that tangled knot has always featured a contentious weaving of two primary threads, two elements that historically make each other sensible but which still have no essential or satisfactory relationship to each other—race and sound. 

Author Biography

Louis Chude-Sokei, Boston University

Louis Chude-Sokei is a writer and scholar whose work includes the award-winning, The Last Darky: Bert Williams, Black on Black Minstrelsy and the African Diaspora (Duke University Press, 2006), The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics (Wesleyan University Press, 2016) and the acclaimed memoir, Floating in a Most Peculiar Way (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021). He is also the founder of the sonic art and archiving project, Echolocution and collaborates with musicians and sound artists, most recently the iconic German electronic group Mouse on Mars on their 2021 album, Anarchic Artificial Intelligence.


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How to Cite

Chude-Sokei, L. (2021). Return to the Echo Chamber: Race, Sound and the Future of Community (Excerpt). Journal of World Popular Music, 8(1), 38–48.