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Anthropology of Hip-Hop in a Global Perspective

Melisa Riviere
University of Minnesota

The course covers the historical trajectory of hip-hop from its inception in the post-civil rights era of New York City during1970’s in the form of four elements - break dancing, rap, turntablism, and graffiti art - to its contemporary identity as a global youth phenomenon.  The historical development of hip-hop is accompanied with the analysis of scholarly works ranging from contemporary academic research to old-school rap lyrics. Literature, lectures, legal cases, films and multi-media projects individually analyze each element and question the four-element paradigm that defines hip-hop today.  The course looks at the role gender, class, and race play in the use of hip-hop as a tool for social change while simultaneously acting as a corporate marketing device.  The course aims to re-structure stereotypes and offer a deeper perspective into how hip-hop defines the identities of individuals as well as the consciousness of masses.

Anthropology of Hip-Hop breaks down the course into nine distinct sections: (1) Legendary Roots, (2) “Hip-Hop!” the Four Elements and Pop Culture, (3) The New Revolution & Gangster Rap, (4) Rap and the Law, (5) Race & Class Politics of Hip-Hop, (6) Turntablism & Production, (7) Bling Bling: Hip-Hop Consumerism, (8) Gender/Sexuality, and (9) Global Hip-Hop. Guest speakers and local hip-hop artists are incorporated into the course so as to contribute to an ongoing dialogue between academia and the community.

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