In the thriller Collateral (2004), Tom Cruise is a contract killer called Vincent. There is a scene depicting a shoot-out in a Korean night club in East Los Angeles. Filmed with hand-held cameras and accompanied by the noise of shooting and relentless disco music, the space of the night club shoot-out collapses as in a major catastrophe (or catastrophe movie) as we watch the scene. Bodies are thrown towards each other and onto the floor. But as much as the scene depicts a powerful eruption of entropy, chaos, and cultural kinesthesis (see O’Dell 2004), the scene can also be understood as an example of cultural synchronization. At the same time as everything crumbles, the relentless and intoxicating rhythms of the dance music played in the night club actually seem to gather kinesthetic energy from the shoot-out (Klinkmann 2005). This kind of cultural synchronization, here seen on a relatively small scale, is the theme of this chapter. More specifically I want to examine the concept of cultural synchronization (“synch”) by way of its negation, cultural desynchronization (“unsynch”), with examples taken from a broad field of practices, mainly through popular music.

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Klinkmann, S., (2005) “Synch/Unsynch”, Ethnologia Europaea 35(1), 81-87. doi:

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  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Sven-Erik Klinkmann (University of Turku)



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