Hip Hop and International Relations Theory

Just wanted to take a moment to point out a few fun yet educational links for all you hip hop fans curious about international relations theory.

It starts off with a blog by author, professor, and director of the Institute of Middle East Studies here in DC, Marc Lynch, killing time by with his blog on ForeignPolicy.com entitled “Jay-Z vs the Game: Lessons for the American Primacy Debate.” It’s a simple yet brilliant explanation of some basic concepts using  feuds between various rappers as examples.

This lead to an informative interview on NPR.

He then adds a follow up post expanding on a point that the murders of Tupac and Biggie Smalls had the same affecton the hip hop community as World War II did on Europe.

My favorite part is the ensuing debate among various foreign policy analysts and reporters.  I think it’s an amusing demographic side note that this group that is not only made up of hard core political analysts but also hard core rap fans that can quote extensively from both infamous and obscure rap battles to illustrate their points about how the US should approach its dealings with various countries like Iran and North Korea.

Here’s a bonus link talking about the neurological aspect of this whole debate.

This whole episode reminds me of an event I attended at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars a couple years ago discussing the impact of hip hop on grassroots politics around the world.

I talked about the ubiquity of African inspired dance  in my Charleston and/or Lindy Hop post last week,  but it’s interesting to see and hear that this cultural impact isn’t limited to just movement and has some serious political and social ramifications.

Check out this trailer for “African Underground: Democracy in Dakar”

This documentary details the important role that rappers and other hip hop artists played in mobilizing the people of Senegal during their first presidential election in decades in 2007.  You can actually see the whole movie online on YouTube and at www.AfricanUnderground.com.

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