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Geography: violence, infrastructure, economy, music

Any student of Colombia knows how important its fractured geography is to structuring not only the economy but the spatial imaginary. Here's some practical applications of geography in the Colombian everyday:
  • Paramilitaries and land. link
  • The Pacific coast of Colombia and the global economy - a meeting in Cali between Latin American countries with coasts on the Pacific Rim. link
This reminds us how necessary it is for the country to control its most important port on the Pacific and try and secure the highway from Buenaventura to the interior.
  • Finally, the geoeconomics of music. Link
According to this article, Colombian pop music, post-Carlos Vives, and especially with Juanes and Shakira these days, is hot hot hot. This is in some ways, a throwback to the music scout's "scene" model - from Seattle grunge to Atlanta crunk, once some new place-based scene is discovered, record companies crawl all over it to sign, if not necessarily to actually promote, everyone.) But this is different when its outside the States: record labels, already unwilling to put money into new acts what with all the money they're not making by sticking with the antiquated CD format, have to spend the money to import overseas artists to the states. Apparently, despite .mp3s, presence still matters. So, the usual record company balance between the cost of promotion of unkown artists and the possibility of contrating a hitmaker, is complicated by geography: they basically either have to promote them from Colombia or set them up, like Shakira, in Miami. Unlike US artists, though, the companies can look at local charts to see if the artist is making hits. This is, of course, not only a Colombian phenomenon, is probably related to what Toby Miller, talking about the film industry, called the NiCL, or the new international division of cultural labor - akind of maquiladora model for culture. Leaving aside world music, reggaetón in PR and Jamaican artists like Sean Paul are subject to similar dynamics, although the geographical proximity of the Caribbean and PR's colonial status make geography resolve itself in different ways...

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