In an attempt to further muddy some conceptual waters, I present you this Finnish music video:
Shava are probably the only representatives so far of the genre of Suomibhangra, a Finnish take on the South Asian diaspora dance genre, bhangra. One one level there’s a lot to be critical of here, perhaps – the wilful exoticism, the fake Indian dancers, the almost-brownface of someone like the “Finnjabi bad boy” in the video.
On the other hand, though, which I think is perhaps more interesting, there’s the reaction in the bhangra community. I actually found the track on a bhangra blog, it’s been reposted and become popular on a bhangra youtube channel where it’s generated positive comments, the band has toured to desi audiences in Canada and it’s played on several bhangra radio stations… The bhangra community is not offended at all, they rather like it. (For as they say: Imitation is…)
So who’s right? Us radical critics or the people we think we’re defending? Perhaps it’s worth thinking about.
Johan Palmeis a musicology student in Stokholm, Sweden. He blogs about music and other stuff at Birdseed’s Tunedown.
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