Bennetta Jules-Rosette et Denis-Constant Martin

Popular culture is a terrain on which social identity and collective representations are forged. Recently, scholars in the areas of anthropology, cultural studies, political science, and literature have approached the social and political implications of popular culture from contrasting perspectives. These approaches have opened up a number of important questions and debates. Is popular culture a product of resistance or a source of escape? Are the mixtures, fusions, and combinations that characterize popular culture today emblems of identity, signs of an inevitable process of globalization, or by-products of complex processes drawing upon the dialectics of universalization and discourses of contestation ? This paper addresses these questions by examining theories of the production, reception, and consumption of popular culture in comparative perspective. It explores the structures of signification that arise in the transmission of popular culture and the complexities and ambivalences involved in the cycle of communication. Popular culture is analyzed as a permeable system of significations based on memory, and providing material for the construction and expression of collective identity, and contrasting attitudes towards power. An overview of recent theoretical and methodological developments is followed by a comparative analysis of data drawn from popular art and music in Africa, the Antilles, Europe, India, Latin America, and the Unites States. In conclusion, new theoretical directions are suggested in order to reassess the implications of empirical studies in the field.

Olivier Roy

One of the causes of the weakness of the State in the Middle East is that prime allegiance goes to the "solidarity group" (açabiyya), a social network which is always founded on family and personal relationships. These solidarity groups either are committed to a national strategy in order to control the State or, on the contrary, become delocalised and internationalised within diasporas which create their own transnational networks. Solidarity groups are not the expression of the permanence of a traditional society within a modern State, but rather a recomposition of allegiance networks within a political space definitively modified by the existence of a State. This recomposition can take three main forms. Firstly territorial establishment and the development of a community within sub-ethnic groups competing for power: the Kulabis in Tajikistan for example. Secondly the delocalisation of power networks which fade away once their objective, the obtaining of State power, is achieved (the Samarkand faction in Uzbekistan). Finally it can be achieved by the linking to an international network, for example that of humanitarian aid. These different types of recomposition do not weaken the State as such, which remains the framework of any possible inscription in the political space. But they do hinder the transition towards an ethnic State which can function only when it is built from above: thus Uzbekistan exists - not Baluchistan.

Eric Anglès, Chris Hensley et Denis-Constant Martin

During the 70s three somewhat extraordinary phenomena occurred at the same time in Jamaica: the rise of rastafarianism, a syncretic sect, the establishment of reggae as a new style of popular music and the emergence of a political movement headed by one of the two strongest parties on the island, the People's National Party. While these three movements expressed themselves in different ways - and were never exclusively linked - they together came to represent an intense aspiration for change whether it be cultural, social, economic or political.Today Jamaicans have a different attitude to their history: for many dignity and pride have replaced a sense of alienation and self denigration. Yet the political system has not changed and the same social inequalities persist as twenty five years ago. Jamaica still wonders what its future could be. These collected papers analyze the factors that enabled the coming together of rastafarianism, reggae and political forces within Jamaica and examine recent developments in popular music in an attempt to better understand the extent of social transformation within Jamaica.