Christoph Matenaers

  • University of HildesheimPhD Scholarship Holder

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Power differentials in international artistic relations
with the example of the urban music scenes in Accra, Nairobi and Berlin 


One of the biggest Revolutions of today is taking place in the global music, affecting hundreds of millions of people. In a present that is economically and culturally shaped by globalization, local and national issues are always interwoven with international developments. This raises the question of what constitutes our society, what holds it together and what its identity is. This process of self-understanding, of global dialogue within society, can be driven forward by global music. Through music, people can be brought into conversation with each other, even though they are divided and different from each other in terms of lifestyle, culture, politics, space, biography or society, but are connected by common questions and challenges.

Through global music – expressing identity for an entire generation – global differences, diversity, parallels and similarities gets highlighted. Musicians create, through expressing their realities, a framework for identity – a shared space for their community or even a brand for their nation.

Local communities are faced with the task of developing their own cultural markets in art, music, theatre, cinema, media with which they can make themselves present in the world and thus in transcultural dialogue. However, a stable infrastructure has to be established that protects cultural workers and also provides a basis for their creative work.

The emergence of a culture so marked by economic criteria will depend on Africa’s ability to be on an equal footing with the industrial countries. The self-image of Africa and its perception in the industrialized countries will also have a decisive influence on shaping international relations in the future. Global music is always tied to local actors and the prevailing political situation in the place. It is important to take a close look at the social, economic and political realities in which a musician lives and has grown up. What are the intentions behind the collaborations? Is one’s own motivation the attempt of a self-staging, an inner attitude that always acts for one’s own benefit, for example to present oneself, to enrich one’s own sound with exotic elements in order to stand out from the crowd? Then the problem lies in the basis, since this functionalization makes it impossible to meet at eye level. Or do the participants encounter each other free of personal profit thinking and emancipated from the bias of their own social and cultural value system? By moving away from the naïve and arrogant feeling of superiority of one’s own culture, which belongs to the essence of every imperialism, the ground is prepared for an open, tolerant, appreciative and symmetrical encounter.

The aim is to show the potentials that music can bring forth, and to shed light on the social and geopolitical discourses in which an encounter in a global world is always involved. What values are created by music? How does music change or influence society? What is the social role of an Artist? What inspiration do we get out of music scenes for building communities?  How can the situation for artists be sustainably improved? What is the concrete power gap in international artistic work relations? I want to examine the international power relations, but also the local power relations. How should the post-colonial music market in the North-South relationship change (sustainably) for the artists?





Christoph Matenaers is a musician based in Berlin/Germany. While studying Geography (Bachelor of Science in Applied Geography at University of Trier)  and World Music (Master of Arts at the Center for Worldmusic, Hildesheim) he spent a lot of time in foreign countries assimilating the global sound. This led him to focus on experimenting with organic musical instruments from different parts of the world. His main focus is exploring the macrocosm of sound and rhythm through instruments such as African-harps, Hang, Drums, Percussions, Kalimbas and Mallets combined with field recorded samples coated in fragmented minimalist electronics. He performs in various formations at international venues and festivals. He also creates music for Movies, Theater, Contemporary Dance and Perfomance Art.

While doing an Internship at the Goethe Institut Nairobi in Kenya he found his focus on global music through projects like „Ten Cities“, „BLNRB” or „Translating HipHop“. Further on he works as a cultural entrepreneur with his music collective MAKAKALI. In a world of plurality, inner complexity, and ongoing development, he believes that music and art play an important role. In view of this, his Phd thesis allows him a connective link for his passion in music and geography.