Traveling Entrepreneurs, Traveling Sounds: The Early Gramophone Business in India and China

Christina Lubinski, Andreas Steen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

During the first global economy, roughly from Western industrialization to World War I, the gramophone, much like other consumer goods, circulated relatively freely around the world. This paper compares the market in India and China asking how gramophone companies established themselves there and focuses on the interaction between Western businesspeople and local partners. The article first shows how agents started exploring strategies for “localizing” music and, second, how in both countries their interaction with local partners was first shaped by curiosity and commercial interest, and later by traditionalism and nationalism, the latter of which paradoxically both inhibited and enabled Western business. Based on diaries, corporate files, trade journals, and consular reports, the paper shows that the highly localized and politicized demand for music made access to local knowledge a crucial competitive advantage.
Original languageEnglish
JournalItinerario: International Journal on the History of European Expansion and Global Interaction
Volume41
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)275-303
Number of pages29
ISSN0165-1153
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • China
  • Gramophone industry
  • India
  • International business
  • Nationalism

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