Caribbean Creatives and the Intelligent Economy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Technological innovation is usually seen as a symbol of progress and development. Techno-optimism is often associated with the Intelligent Economy and a belief in the inherent liberalizing and progressive orientation of technological innovation. The circulation of cultural products and content in particularly is heavily reliant upon media infrastructure for circulation and distribution. Technological innovation therefore impacts the political economy of the creative industries (Hesmondhalgh & Meier 2017, Wallis & Malm 1984). The promise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterized by internet-mediated technological innovation, is increased market access and opportunities for all, particularly those outside the traditional business loci of the global cultural economy - London, New York and Los Angeles (Baker 2019, Scott 1999, 2004). However, Hirsch’s (1972) gatekeeper model has remained relevant. Despite the access generated by internet-mediated technologies, the geographical centres of the global cultural economy have not changed. Hollywood remains the most profitable locus of the film industry (De Beukelaer & Spence 2019, Berg 2018, Sylvanus & Eze-Emaeyaek 2018, Yang 2016, Crane 2014). London, New York and London continue to dominate in music (Baker 2019, Haampland 2017, Watson 2012, 2008). And the visual arts continue to be dominated by a few biennales, most notably Vienna’s (Boucher 2019, Gronlund 2019, Cranfield 2018). Through case studies of Kingston Creative and 21st Hapilos. I discuss of history of responses of Caribbean creatives to technological innovations. I discuss the opportunities and challenges wrought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution for Caribbean creatives. Kingston Creative is a Jamaica grassroots cultural district initiative which seeks to strengthen the creative ecosystem of Jamaica particularly that of one of its most culturally rich and marginalised sections, Downtown Kingston. This initiative is therefore aimed at emerging creatives in a country and region, where cultural workers and creatives are often from the lower class and other marginalised groups. The experience of Kingston Creative is therefore an empirical case study of access and development opportunities afforded (or not) by the Intelligent Economy for ‘second mover’ countries and their inhabitants within the global cultural economy. The history of the technological evolution from analogue to digital and the response of Caribbean creatives contradicts techno-optimistic discourses, demonstrating that, while access to the global cultural economy is generally eased, gatekeepers remain (Noble 2018, Haampland 2017, Elberse 2013). Caribbean creatives have traditionally had to innovate and employed hybridized systems to circumvent gatekeepers for economic benefit. For example, the cassette and CD ‘ninjas’ ignore IP conventions to secure widespread informal international music distribution of reggae , dancehall and soca in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In addition, the techno-optimism of the Fourth Industrial Revolution assumes internet access. The infrastructural issues of education and technology, including lack of access to reliable internet, illiteracy, affordability of hardware and online banking access, within Caribbean contradict this assumption. For example, Kingston Creative has to brand its own platform, partner with more established partners, and teach digital marketing and strategy in order to promote and secure a livelihood for these creatives. The instability of gig economy labour, characteristic of the Intelligent Economy, is a development issue in a region characterised by poor employment prospects (Alacovska & Gill 2019, Hesmondhalgh & Meier 2010). This case study is therefore an important addition to a growing canon of ex-centric empirical cases studies on the economic and political faultlines of the global cultural economy, These will be key, it is hoped, to developing both private and public policy insights to reap more (development) benefits from the Intelligent Economy for Global South creatives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntelligent Economies: Developments in the Caribbean
EditorsStacey-Ann Wilson
Place of PublicationSanta Rosa
PublisherInforming Science Press
ISBN (Print)9781681100647
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2021


  • Creative Economy, Intelligent Economy


Dive into the research topics of 'Caribbean Creatives and the Intelligent Economy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this