‘Connotations of colonialism’? Grammys ditch ‘world music’ category, for less ‘problematic’ name

‘Connotations of colonialism’? Grammys ditch ‘world music’ category, for less ‘problematic’ name

The Recording Academy announced the decision to Billboard magazine on Monday, saying that the award show will be “updating its language” to better “engage and celebrate the current scope of music from around the world”.

According to the academy, the ‘world’ term had such “connotations” as “colonialism, folk, and ‘non-American’,”.

The decision to switch from it follows the organization’s discussions with artists, ethnomusicologists and linguists “from around the world,” as the academy somewhat ironically put it.

Originally introduced in 1991, the ‘world music’ category was meant to broadly encompass various international recordings with no deference to their genres, united only by not being rooted in either Western or Latin traditions, already established in the American media.

For quite a long time the term has been criticized as “problematic” and sometimes even “racist,” with music industry members arguing, that it was too gross a generalization of many peoples’ cultures.

The academy’s move seems to be following a much wider media trend of organizations trying to appease culture critics. The Oscars last year rebranded its Best Foreign Language Film award category as Best International Feature Film.

Issues of racism and colonialism have become especially hot topics recently, amplified by the wave of the Black Lives Matter protests, which were sparked by Geroge Floyd’s death in late May.

Although the Grammys are yet to update their rule book with a new description of the rebranded “global music” category, the move has left many industry critics wondering whether the change in the name would make any difference. “It’s the category itself that has connotations of colonialism, not just what they call it,” one of the commenters said, while others criticized the academy for “self-back patting” over the name change which they believe is pathetic.

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