eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
SINCE 1997
TRAMES cover
TRAMES. A Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
ISSN 1736-7514 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-0922 (Print)
Impact Factor (2020): 0.5


Full article in PDF format | doi: 10.3176/tr.2008.3.09

Berk Vaher

The article is a study into exotic record collecting as a manifestation of memory-based identity politics – a way of reasserting one’s agency in the consumerist society through an expanded consciousness of the complexities of the forgotten cultural past (in the present case, extremely eccentric obscure vinyl records). First, exotic record collecting is linked to the more extensive tradition of utopian exoticism in Western culture – the recycling of cultural memory (thus also an exoticism based on temporal rather than spatial distance) is presented as an extension of the earlier but largely exhausted exoticism which was inspired by alien territories. Next, exotic vinyl hunting is suggested to be the postmodern revival of the cultural project of ‘ethnographic surrealism’, celebrated by James Clifford as one of the crucial catalysts of modernism. Finally, the connection between exotic record collecting and other reinterpretations of collective cultural memory is indicated, as exemplified by collector Mickey MacGowan’s The Unknown Museum, which ventures to expand collective cultural memory of the history of popular culture and thus combat the perennial industrial promotion of the ‘new’ with more vintage and affective ways of defining oneself through material objects of imagined value.

Benjamin, Walter (1969) Illuminations. Hannah Arendt, ed. New York: Schocken Books.

Bongie, Chris (1991) Exotic memories – literature, colonialism and the fin de siècle. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Clifford, James (2002 (1988)) The predicament of culture: twentieth-century ethnography, literature, and art. Cambridge, London: Harvard University Press.

De Whalley, Chas (2007) “Back to the future. The reissues industry: special report by Chas De Whalley. Part 3: It’s in the grooves: the survival of vinyl”. Record Collector 339, 70–73.

Fowler, Peter, compiler (2005) The sounds of Monsterism Island. Vol. 1. Forever Heavenly/EMI FHVN 3LPCD.

Hainard, Jacques and Rolland Kaehr (1985) Temps perdu, temps retrouvé: voir les choses du passé au présent. Neuchâtel: Musée d’Ethnographie.

Harootunian, Harry (2002) “The exotics of nowhere.” In Victor Segalen. Essay on exoticism: an aesthetics of diversity, vii-xx. Durham and London: Duke University Press

Hayward, Philip, ed. (2000) Widening the horizon: exoticism in post-war popular music. London, Paris, Rome, and Sydney: John Libbey/Perfect Beat Publications.

Hutnyk, John (2000) Critique of exotica: music, politics and the culture industry. London and Sterling, Virginia: Pluto Press.

Kirsten, Sven A. (2003) The book of Tiki: the cult of Polynesian pop in fifties America. Köln: Taschen.

Said, Edward (2003 (1978)). Orientalism. London: Penguin Books.

Segalen, Victor (2002). Essay on exoticism: an aesthetics of diversity. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Shuker, Roy (2004) “Beyond the ‘high fidelity’ stereotype: defining the (contemporary) record collector”. Popular Music 23, 3, 311–330.

Taylor, Timothy D. (2001) Strange sounds: music, technology and culture. London and New York: Routledge.

Toop, David (1999) Exotica: fabricated soundscapes in a real world. London: Serpent’s Tail.

Toop, David (2001 (1995)) Ocean of sound: aether talk, ambient sound and imaginary worlds. London: Serpent’s Tail.

Vale, V. and Andrea Juno (1993) Incredibly strange music. Vol. 1. San Francisco: Re/Search Publications.

Vale, V. and Andrea Juno (1994) Incredibly strange music. Vol. 2. San Francisco: Re/Search Publications.

Back to Issue