Mediating the Local: Radio and the Neoliberal Cultural Economy of Space in Trinidad

by Robin Balliger

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Neoliberalism has largely been studied as an economic doctrine, but privatization, public sector contraction, and increasing inequality also produce profound transformations in culture and governance in global space. In this paper, I focus on the political effects (and affects) of new productions of the “local” enabled by commercial media expansion in Trinidad and Tobago. For many postcolonies, self-representation was important for transforming colonial subjects into national citizens, and for many Trinidadians, state-owned media symbolized national sovereignty after Independence in 1962. In the neoliberal era, however, media privatization includes increased access to transnational media platforms, along with a sixfold increase in radio stations that has enabled ethnic groups and sub-national constituencies to gain a national voice. I explore the ways in which new “all-local” radio stations create competing imaginaries of Trinidadian culture, history, and spatiality. Even when media appear to promote indigenous cultural forms, in a neoliberal cultural economy this often has less to do with community, than constructing “local” culture as an exploitable market at home and abroad. The fracturing of authenticity stages the local as an object-world through the logic of commodification, but claims to locality may also enable new cultural identifications and radical political practices.

Before addressing the specificity of mediated space in Trinidad, I discuss how common terms such as “global” and “local” circulate in contemporary discourse as signifiers with no clear referents. Scalar analysis may facilitate complex understandings of everyday life in globalized conditions, but too often, the “local” functions uncritically as a metonym for “real” unmediated experience. In U.S. popular usage, the term “local” typically conjoins geography, epistemology, and political strategy, as it connotes a physically bounded location or community considered knowable through personal experience (apart from spectacle or simulacra),[1] and “buying local” is often promoted as a political panacea capable of ending dependence on foreign oil, fostering “local” job creation, and defeating global capitalist exploitation. However, critical geography emphasizes the production of space as historically constituted within hegemonic relations, including the signification of environments—both “built” and “natural.” [2] Just like the “city,” the “local” is not a unified or contained space, but a material and discursive production representing multiple experiences. My analysis emphasizes the “local” as multi-scalar, rather than assuming a hierarchy of nested scales. I also bring ethnographic specificity to Saskia Sassen’s critical contribution that neoliberal globalization does not necessarily erode national sovereignty; it often involves repositioning particular national capabilities so that the national assumes new meanings.[3]

Colonial Media/Political Space

To address relationships between media structure and identity formation in Trinidad, it is important to historicize the Caribbean region in colonial and postcolonial conditions. While Benedict Anderson has famously argued that the nation is an imagined political community,[4] critics have illustrated how this template is encountered in radically different contexts; in Africa, for example, external authority created colonies with random boundaries in relation to multiple autochthonous populations.[5] In the Caribbean, the sphere of the national may be more imaginary than in any other region in the world, given the genocide of native peoples, the oppressive conditions of slavery and indenture under which most populations were established, and lengthy colonial domination. These factors led Michel-Rolph Trouillot to characterize the Caribbean as “nothing but contact,"[6] and relationships to territory remain ambivalent.

Scholarship on mass media in the U.S. and Europe illustrates how state institutions and media became central instruments of class rule through hegemony, and legitimized the nation-state as the embodiment of political and social order.[7] In the context of British rule in Trinidad (1802-1962), the purpose of the media was to facilitate administration of the colonial apparatus. This was achieved through the establishment of the Trinidad Guardian newspaper in 1917 and Radio Trinidad in 1947, which featured BBC news eight times a day, BBC soaps, and a small amount of local cultural programming. However, in opposition to British media control, the struggle for independence during and after WWII produced subversive channels of information among a subjugated population. The development of calypso music and its public performance were central to the propagation of an alternative identity and discourse. Calypso was likened to a musical newspaper that focused on topical issues and satirized British elites, thereby becoming a powerful anti-colonial communicative strategy.[8]

Media scholarship on non-metropolitan societies emphasizes cultural imperialism, and anti-colonial nationalist movements conceived of state media as crucial for reversing ideas, values, and ways of being associated with Eurocentrism.[9] After Trinidad gained independence in 1962, Prime Minister Eric Williams and the People’s National Movement (PNM) maintained the highly-controlled media structure inherited from colonialism as a strategy for transforming colonial subjects into national citizens. But how was the single-state television station to represent an ethnically heterogeneous nation? Trinidad’s population is diverse: 40% are of East Indian descent, 37.5% of African descent, 20.5 % of mixed descent, and 2% white, Chinese, and other.[10] In word, Williams eschewed primordialism as the basis for a new national identity, but in practice, Afro-Trinidadian cultural expressions like calypso music and carnival exemplified national culture, with little acknowledgement of the East Indian presence.[11] Afro-Trinidadian hegemony continued until political defeat in 1986, when declining oil revenues led to IMF conditionality, privatization, and media deregulation.

Media Structure and Race Politics in the 1990s

After a period of state control of broadcasting in many postcolonial and European states, in the 1980s and 1990s media scholars cite a shift away from broadcasting structures based on a national public, to a more complex system in which regional, national and transnational broadcasting coexist.[12] Some celebrate deregulation as a sign of democratization, pluralism, and the expansion of civil society, while others see this as a rightward shift of neoliberalism in which a "wide range of public services were privatized, marketed, deregulated or run down.”[13] Not surprisingly, during the “Arab Spring” of 2011, mainstream media organizations in the West were quick to celebrate social media platforms as instantiations of democratic power against absolutism (in large part eliding socio-economic conditions, the power of labor organizations, etc.). This perspective occludes the multiple effects and social complexity of media expansion in much of the world.

In contrast to the “broad”casting of radio under the PNM in Trinidad, in the 1990s, the number of licensed radio stations increased from four to fourteen, giving “voice” to conflicting segments of society. While the neoliberal expansion of media appeared to have a purely economic function (increasing trade and advertising revenue),[14] changes in media content in this period fueled racial divisiveness. In 1993, Radio 103 broadcast the first all-Indian format, revolutionizing Trinidad’s airwaves, the construction of national culture, and the political arena. During this “Indian Renaissance,” Indo-Trinidadian cultural forms like chutney music became popularized in the national public sphere, and Indian radio directly contributed to the historic victory of an “Indian” government in 1995.[15] For many people of African descent, the dramatic expansion of Indian programming was viewed as an assault on their cultural and political hegemony, and ethnic divisiveness dominated debate throughout the 1990s. In the same period, a new youth-oriented radio station (WEFM) garnered high ratings through a format that included almost no “Trinidadian” music, instead capitalizing on experiences of poverty and disenfranchisement through the popular underclass narratives of Jamaican dancehall reggae. Thus media expansion during the 1990s contributed to race becoming central to public debate in national culture and governance—so much so that some scholars even predicted ethnic violence.[16] Since 2000, however, racial divisiveness has subsided in the Trinidadian public sphere, suggesting transformed meanings of ethnicity from primordial essence to consumable identity display.

Media and Transnational Governance since 2000

The modern nation-state was putatively entrusted with managing the well-being of citizens, as well as forging commonality through the symbolics and practices of nationalism and other techniques of governmentality.[17] In recent years, the semiotic production of “horizontal comradeship” has been challenged by the verticality of class, while the “mass ceremonies” that foster the temporality of the nation have splintered into multiple practices of consumption.[18] For the neoliberal state, transnational class interests become more important than the state’s relationship to a national public. Since 2000, Trinidad’s energy-based economy has thrived and the country has a comparatively high GDP ($21,200 in 2010), but poverty has risen dramatically even as the state and national elites have prospered.[19] Increased poverty among youth is not only evident in troubling statistics, but in the narrative circulation of these experiences in media and popular music.

New media in Trinidad exacerbate class and generational differences, thus producing multiple spatialities against a uniform national imaginary coterminous with the territorial state. The declining presence of national media became strikingly evident on January 15th, 2005, when Trinidad’s state-owned media went dark after 48 years. Many Trinidadians of the independence generation considered the National Broadcasting Network an important symbol of national sovereignty and essential for preserving a distinctly Trinidadian aesthetic. A young Trinidadian musician and activist even described the period from the late 1990s to 2004 as a “cultural holocaust.”[20] For decades, many musicians advocated a state-mandated percentage of local content in Trinidad’s media, but this was never achieved. Ironically, however, a month after the closure of state media, the government granted thirty private concessions for “Free to Air” FM Radio Broadcasting Services which included three stations featuring all-local content and three additional all-local cable stations. In a sudden shift, the media environment featured more “Trinidad” than in any previous historical moment.

These changes seem to bolster neoliberal arguments that the state sector is not as responsive to popular interests as private initiative, since the business community perceived the “local” as a potentially lucrative market. When I asked the manager of a media marketing firm how these stations differ, he commented: “They are all trying to do the same thing. They are trying to be so grassroots—more local than local, more Trinidadian than Trinidadian.”[21] Of course, this production of the local depends on advertising revenue through attracting market share—in other words, the production of difference. I characterize this fracturing of space as the transition from a postcolonial to a neoliberal cultural economy.

The Cultural and Spatial Politics of “All-Local” Radio

In my analysis, the initial expansion of radio in the 1990s contributed to racial bifurcation in Trinidad, but the recent increase to thirty stations has had a distinctly different cultural impact— mitigating racial divisiveness through intensified cultural commodification and niche marketing. Three stations claim to include all-local content, but for economic viability they must aim for a specific target audience within the nation. Radio Trinbago appealed to older Afro-Trinidadians whose lives have been embedded in traditionally defined national culture, especially calypso music (the station was owned by calypsonian Lord Superior). Attracting sufficient market share was difficult for Radio Trinbago and it only survived three years; talk segments emphasized nostalgia for Creole (Afro-Trinidadian) nationalism in music and politics, but the older generation of African descent represents a declining percentage of the population. (Audio examples include a political calypso from the 1930s by Attila the Hun, “Commissioner’s Report”; the song contests the colonial narrative of labor unrest in the oil sector, especially by activist “Buzz” Butler. Hear, also, a classic calypso from 1961 by Lord Pretender, “Never Ever Worry”)

A second, well-capitalized “all-local” station is TriniBashment and it combined Afro-Trinidadian soca and Indo-Trinidadian chutney-soca music in radically unprecedented ways, thus creating an ethnically inclusive national cultural soundscape. Soca music is a fast “party” offshoot of calypso and the most popular music during carnival season. Indo-Trinidadian chutney music (an older, rural form) was fused with soca by younger Trinidadians of Indian descent; the style exhibits the energy and contemporary production qualities of soca, but often includes Hindi words, melodies, or rhythms. Trinidad’s carnival season represents the major period of indigenous cultural production and consumption, including numerous soca and chutney-soca parties, or “fetes,” up to 40,000 people.[22] Popular chutney soca artists include Rikki Jai and Ravi B, while Machel Montano has been the dominant soca artist for more than ten years. For an example of soca, listen to this 2007 hit by Russell Cadogan, “Big Bottom Gyal.”

Interestingly, the owner of TriniBashment, Iwer George, is a successful Afro-Trinidadian soca singer who had previously been accused of racism and disrespect towards Indian women, particularly for his popular soca song of 1997, “Bottom in de Road.” Although this station was the most representative media outlet for national culture that ever existed, TriniBashment also capitalized on the mass appeal of Jamaican dancehall culture among youth through its name and broadcasting style, as “Bashment” is Jamaican slang for a dancehall party. An astute businessman, Iwer George clearly understood the earning potential in the Afro- and Indo-Trinidadian diasporas through the international carnival circuit, which significantly influences music production in the national context, as national distinctiveness represents comparative advantage in the neoliberal marketplace.

In stark contrast to these two “all-local” stations, Sidewalk Radio explicitly subverted received understandings of Trinidadian culture. Some populations in Trinidad chafe against the social imperative to perform normative identity figured through hegemonic Indo- and Afro-Trinidadian cultural forms. Instead, this station offered a free-form mix of Trinidadians performing a variety of music genres, including jazz, rock, reggae, world music, and electronica, thus occluding the audible branding of national culture. A newspaper article discussing Soloman Gabriel’s station states: “More than changing the landscape of the local music scene, Solomon feels it will transform society.” He claims, “We are going to change everything. We have some enthusiastic young announcers. Young people are so ready to join this revolution.”[23]

Solomon Gabriel became involved in radio out of his love of music. In an interview I conducted with him at his home/recording studio in Trinidad in late 2009, he described himself as a “music man” —someone completely dedicated to writing, recording, and performing music. Gabriel’s own music blends reggae, pop, calypso and rock, and he bought a broadcasting license so that his own music and that of other “alternative” “Trini” artists could be heard. “I didn’t see a way out—with how difficult it is to get on rotation if your work is not really mainstream… it’s a total shut out.”[24] For decades some musicians and fans in Trinidad expressed themselves through different styles, and while they felt no less “Trini” through their identification with these expressions, these sounds were exiled from the limited range of “Trinidadian” expression in media. Musicians in these “alternative” scenes performed in small venues and often despaired about ever receiving recognition from the wider society.[25] Sidewalk Radio’s radical intervention into Trinidadian cultural identity occurred through the claim that “Trinidadian” music is defined by the people that make it, not by genre.

I was very fortunate to have heard Sidewalk Radio live in Trinidad in 2006, and from the first few moments I knew this station was significantly different. The young DJs were excited about the cultural “revolution” they were enacting; they even exuded a style that was confrontational at times. Clearly, Sidewalk Radio wasn’t just about broadcasting alternative kinds of music—this was about creating a radical expansion of what it meant to be Trinidadian. But demonstrating the range of creativity and expressions among Trinidadian musicians also challenged the hegemonic broadcasting business and its control over radio. Undaunted, Gabriel believed that limiting airplay to carnival styles not only limits political consciousness, but also denies listeners the meanings that emerge from creative musicality. He particularly values the medium of radio: “It has to be radio—where you keep your music out there 24/7, so the sound anchors in the minds of people.” Far from didacticism, his approach demonstrates a deep understanding of consciousness that emerges from music as a complex social and emotional sound/text. [26] Gabriel continued: “This would bring about a new dispensation in society. Kids would tell their parents—buy me a guitar, instruments… you would see guys in the bandroom… It was supposed to be a whole cultural shift. You never know…”

Besides challenging the national cultural soundscape, Sidewalk Radio grew organically into a platform for political activism through its accessibility. While the primary focus was always music, the station welcomed members of the Rights Action Group (RAG) who opposed the planned construction of a toxic Aluminum Smelter in Trinidad (developed by U.S. multinationals Alcoa and Bechtel), which would displace a rural community.[27] (View the trailer for a documentary film on this issue: The Aluminum Smelter represents a strategy of accumulation by the neoliberal state that exhibits little concern for the health and rights of citizens, as Gabriel notes:
We supported RAG—this was the only little bit of talk radio we did, because it was such a potent issue and still is. Then we got into the Preamble of the Constitution, and we got into discussion of this – everybody must have land and such… so the radio was seen as the place where activists could talk about it. Maybe that’s why they thought it was easy to shut us down, especially with the election coming up.[28]
Within a year, Gabriel’s radio equipment was seized by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT), and he was charged with operating without a license. In the subsequent legal case, the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago granted a Judicial Review against TATT’s actions. However, in June, 2011, Gabriel was found guilty of operating an illegal FM frequency (on 92.3 MHz instead of 92.1) and he was fined $20,000TT. This entire process has been emotionally and financially draining for Gabriel, but he is appealing the judgment. He believes that justice—and music—will prevail.


Much of the scholarship on neoliberal governmentality focuses on the intensification of individual entrepreneurial attitudes as a central aspect of optimized self-governing, but situated ethnographic research points to the uneven, contingent, and unpredictable effects of “rational” market-driven strategies.[29] In Trinidad, the emergence of Sidewalk Radio initially seemed to conform to the liberalizing impetus of market expansion through personal initiative, but the short history of the radio station suggests that direct policing of cultural and political expressions by the state co-exists with less visible governance strategies, thus pointing to the limits of market “freedom.” In fact, friction or direct conflict may emerge from citizens simply acting in accordance with “non-political” entrepreneurial interests, and Sidewalk Radio provides a fascinating (if tragic) case of radicalization that emerged out of a simple love of music. Sidewalk Radio’s redefinition of Trinidadian culture has profound implications in at least two domains: (1) the extreme reaction to an alternative narrative of national identity suggests a strategic relationship between cultural and political conformity, even in a moment of proliferating differences through media, and (2) the threat Sidewalk Radio presented to cultural distinction, which is central to the commercial branding of national space—especially for the export of carnival culture and for the marketing of tourism.

In sum, for many independence-era subjects, the dream of nationhood represented a genuine dream of community, self-determination, and development, materialized through the political and cultural sovereignty of the nation-state. While the state remains the embodiment of sovereignty in the contemporary world, the expansion of transnational and local media raises questions about how multiple cultural imaginaries articulate with governance strategies and their spatiality; heterogeneous cultural identifications include ethnic minorities and marginalized groups within nations, as well communities formed through consumption of transnational style. I argue that the intensification of the market in Trinidad’s media systems has produced a shift from the political use-value of ethno-national cultural expressions to the primacy of culture as sign-value. The increasing commodification of ethno-national cultural forms reduces the primordial character of these expressions within a national political domain, but historically defined Afro- and Indo-Trinidadian culture remains important as consumable style that circulates within the nation and transnationally—illustrating the cultural “logic” of the neoliberal production of space.


I am grateful to all those who have supported my work over the years. I express my deepest thanks to the Trinidadian musicians, scholars, and activists who generously agree to speak with me (again and again…), including Rubadiri Victor, Burton Sankeralli, Roy McCree, Georgia Popplewell, and Gordon Rohlehr. The Editors of Media Fields Journal made invaluable suggestions for developing this article. A Faculty Development Grant from the San Francisco Art Institute provided research funding for this project.

Additional Resources: Solomon Gabriel’s music and the latest news on Sidewalk Radio TriniBashment radio streams live on the internet. Recently, however, the station has broadened its format to a “regional” focus to compete with popular youth stations that play Jamaican dancehall music. The Rights Action Group in Trinidad emphasizes environment and governance issues.


[1] Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (Detroit: Black and Red, 1983) and Jean Baudrillard, Simulations (New York: Semiotext(e), 1983), also, The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures (London: Sage, 1998).

[2] Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1974); David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1989); David Harvey, The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010); Edward Soja, Seeking Spatial Justice (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010); Alev Cinar and Thomas Bender, eds., Urban Imaginaries: Locating the Modern City (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007).

[3] Saskia Sassen, The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001); Cities in a World Economy (London: Sage, 2006); Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006).

[4] Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983).

[5]Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001).

[6] Michel-Rolph Trouillot, “The Caribbean Region: An Open Frontier in Anthropological Theory,” Annual Review of Anthropology 21 (1992):19-42.

[7] See Frankfurt School theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment (New York: Continuum, 1994), and Jurgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994). For a more situated analysis, see David Lloyd and Paul Thomas, Culture and the State (New York: Routledge, 1998).

[8] For analysis of the historical role of calypso music in Trinidad, see Gordon Rohlehr, Calypso and Society in Pre-Independence Trinidad (Port of Spain: self published, 1990) and Donald Hill, Calypso Calaloo: Early Carnival Music in Trinidad (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1993). Two of the most famous calypsonians since independence are Mighty Sparrow and Lord Kitchener.

[9] Early postcolonial media practices typically parallel state-centric development strategies that achieved prominence in the postwar period under Fordist-Keynesian concepts of national development, and import-substitution industrialization strategies deployed in the Third World were likewise premised on national economies and national culture. See Arturo Escobar’s influential text, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995). Scholars have also shown how postcolonial state media typically serve the interests of a nationalist bourgeoisie, while suppressing minority voices and constructing national culture in highly gendered ways. See, for example, Purnima Mankekar, Screening Culture, Viewing Politics: An Ethnography of Television, Womanhood, and Nation in Postcolonial India (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999).

[10] Population figures are from 2000 census data (Pocket Digest 2002), prepared by the Ministry of Planning and Development, Central Statistical Office, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

[11] Eric Williams, History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago (Port of Spain: PNM Publishing Co., 1942).

[12] For scholarship on media and race in Trinidad, see Kevin Yelvington, ed., Trinidad Ethnicity (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1993) and Stuart Surlin and Walter Soderlund, eds., Mass Media and the Caribbean (New York: Gordon and Breach, 1990). Important anthropological texts on media and space in multiple contexts include: Akhil Gupta and James Ferguson,eds., Culture, Power, Place: Explorations in Critical Anthropology (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997); Setha Low and Denise Lawrence-Zúñiga, The Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003); Faye D. Ginsburg, Lila Abu-Lughod and Brian Larkin, eds., Media Worlds Anthropology on New Terrain (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002); Kelly Askew and Richard Wilk,eds., The Anthropology of Media, (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), Arlene Dávila, Latino Spin: Public Image and the Whitewashing of Race (New York: New York University Press, 2008).

[13] James Curran, “Crisis of Public Communication: A Reappraisal,” Media, Ritual and Identity, eds. Tamar Liebes and James Curran (London: Routledge, 1998), 181.

[14] In the late 1990s, deregulation and the expansion of media produced a “massive explosion in advertising income” according to a manager at the Trinidad Broadcasting Company. In 1990, overall ad revenue was approximately 100 million TT dollars and by 1997 it increased to 150 million. National brands are no longer protected in the Trinidadian economy and the influx of foreign brands produced an explosion of advertising. This situation has also fueled the need for new services in marketing research, like the influential company Market Facts and Opinions Ltd. Supranational organizations such as the WTO also required new intellectual property regulations at the level of the “sovereign” state, and Trinidad’s national copyright organization began a campaign to re-educate the public to conceive of calypso and soca music not as social expression but as the property of individual authors. See Robin Balliger, “The Politics of Cultural Value and the Value of Cultural Politics: International Intellectual Property Legislation in Trinidad,” Trinidad Carnival: The Cultural Politics of a Transnational Festival, eds. Garth Green and Phil Sher (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007), 198-215.

[15] Robin Balliger, “Chutney Soca Music in Trinidad: Indian Ethno-National Expression in Transnational Perspective,” Globalisation, Diaspora, and Caribbean Popular Culture, Christine G.T. Ho and Keith Nurse, eds. (Mona, JA: Ian Randle Publishers, 2005), 184-214.

[16] Anton Allahar, “Popular Culture and Racialisation of Political Consciousness in Trinidad and Tobago,” Identity, Ethnicity, and Culture in the Caribbean, Ralph Premdas, ed. (St. Augustine: University of the West Indies, 1999), 246-281.

[17] Michel Foucault, “Governmentality,” The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller, eds. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 87-104. For an important Caribbean perspective on governmentality, see David Scott, Refashioning Futures: Criticism After Postcoloniality (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1999).

[18] For compelling discussions of governance through cultural commodification, see Nestor García Canclini, Consumers and Citizens: Globalization and Multicultural Conflicts (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001) and George Yúdice, The Expediency of Culture: Uses of Culture in the Global Era (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003).

[19] GDP data from CIA World Fact Book ( In 2004 poverty was estimated as 12% extreme poverty, and 39% poverty—this was during the nation’s boom in oil and natural gas. Hebe Verrest and Rhoda Reddock “Poverty and Statistics in Trinidad and Tobago: An Introduction,” Caribbean Dialogue, 9, No. 4, 2004, 1-12.

[20] Rubadiri Victor, personal communication, 2006.

[21] Stafford Thomas, personal communication, 2006.

[22] As “festival music,” soca has received little scholarly attention because it is typically considered meaningless dance music, compared to calypso’s emphasis on lyrical artistry. However, I contest this reductive approach to soca music in my dissertation: Balliger, Robin, Noisy Spaces: Popular Music Consumption, Social Fragmentation, and the Cultural Politics of Globalization in Trinidad, Stanford University, 2001.

[23] “Sidewalk Radio hits the airwaves—Community station broadcasts another side of local music,” Gillian Moore, Trinidad Guardian, January 17, 2006.

[24] Solomon Gabriel, personal communication, 2009.

[25] In my dissertation, (Balliger 2001), I provide an extended discussion of the demographics and political implications of the rock scene in Trinidad. Similarly, Gabriel’s station appeals to many in the middle-class “mixed” population in Trinidad, who also tend to be more educated and cosmopolitan in orientation.

[26] Selected texts from the burgeoning multidisciplinary interest in music and sound, include, Jacques Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985), Steven Feld and Keith Basso, eds., Senses of Place (Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, 1996), Michael Bull and Les Back, eds., The Auditory Culture Reader (Oxford: Berg, 2003), Veit Erlmann, ed., Hearing Cultures: Essays on Sound, Listening and Modernity (Oxford: Berg, 2004), Andrew Leyshon, David Matless and George Revill, eds., The Place of Music (New York: Guilford Press, 1998).

[27] For important commentary on these events, see Burton Sankeralli, The RAG File: Writings of the Aluminum Smelter Wars (Toronto: Just World Publications, 2009).

[28] Gabriel, 2009.

[29] Aihwa Ong, Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006).

Robin Balliger is Chair of Urban Studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at the San Francisco Art Institute.