African Echoes, Modern Fusions: Caribbean Music, Identity and Resistance in the African Diaspora.

By:
Prof. Barbara Jean Bush
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Music and dance have always been a central facet of African and African Diaspora culture, simultaneously a site of creative fusions, of cultural forms from different parts of West and central Africa, and between African and Europeans traditions, but also an arena of contestation and conflict within racialised power structures. This dynamic cultural fusion and conflict began during the enforced transportation from Africa and continued in the slave community where dance and music were fundamental to slave resistance and the reconstruction of community within the constraints of chattel slavery. For Europeans music, dance and related cultural forms were a threatening reminder of the unknowable 'othernesss' of African slaves (and their refusal to become dehumanised chattels) but also the potential threat slaves posed to white security through obeah practices and rebellion. Within this wider historical context, my focus here is in the continuities and changes associated with the transmigration of Caribbean cultural forms to Britain. I will explore two main areas:-

• Caribbean music and dance as resistance, cultural expression and community in a racialised society. This will include the emergence of Blues Parties and record shops, the Notting Hill Carnival, the ' rebel' music of, for instance, Linton Kwesi Johnson. The influence of Rastafarianism and Jamaican Reggae, Ragga and African-American rap on evolving Black British music.

• The wider diasporic context of Black music in Britain - global rhythms of resistance inspired by African diaspora music

My argument is that music was central to the forging of new British black identities and gave the Black community a sense of cohesion. Cultural fusions and cross-overs - from Two Tone to R & B - helped develop a vibrant and dynamic a multicultural urban culture in British cities. But music was also an important expression of resistance, in particular reggae sounds inspired by Rastafarianism, which linked the Black community in Britain into wider global struggles against racism and injustice.


Keywords: Culture, Migration, Identity, Cultural Transformations and Fusions, Music and Resistance
Stream: Ethnicity, Difference, Identity
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Prof. Barbara Jean Bush

Professor of Imperial History, Department of History, Sheffield Hallam University
Sheffield, UK, UK

Abstract

African Echoes, Modern Fusions: Caribbean Music, Identity and resistance in the African Diaspora.



Music and dance have always been a central facet of African and African Diaspora culture, simultaneously a site of creative fusions, of cultural forms from different parts of West and central Africa, and between African and Europeans traditions, but also an arena of contestation and conflict within racialised power structures This dynamic cultural fusion and conflict began during the enforced transportation from Africa and continued in the slave community where dance and music were fundamental to slave resistance and the reconstruction of community within the constraints of chattel slavery. For Europeans music, dance and related cultural forms were a threatening reminder of the unknowable 'othernesss' of African slaves (and their refusal to become dehumanised chattels) but also the potential threat slaves posed to white security through obeah practices and rebellion. Within this wider historical context, my focus here is in the continuities and changes associated with the transmigration of Caribbean cultural forms to Britain. I will explore two main areas:-

• Caribbean music and dance as resistance, cultural expression and community in a racialised society. This will include the emergence of Blues Parties and record shops, the Notting Hill Carnival, the ' rebel' music of, for instance, Linton Kwesi Johnson. The influence of Rastafarianism and Jamaican Reggae, Ragga and African-American rap on evolving Black British music.

• The wider diasporic context of Black music in Britain - global rhythms of resistance inspired by African diaspora music

My argument is that music was central to the forging of new British black identities and gave the Black community a sense of cohesion. Cultural fusions and cross-overs - from Two Tone to R & B - helped develop a vibrant and dynamic a multicultural urban culture in British cities. But music was also an important expression of resistance, in particular reggae sounds inspired by Rastafarianism, which linked the Black community in Britain into wider global struggles against racism and injustice.

The paper will include video clips and CD music


Barbara Bush, February 2006
Barbara Bush
Professor of Imperial History
email: b.bush@shu.ac.uk

PROFESSOR BARBARA BUSH:
Barbara Bush is the author of Slave Women in Caribbean Society, 1650-1838 (1990) and Imperialism, Race and Resistance: Africa and Britain 1919-1945 (1999). Since the 1980s she has published number of articles on gender, race, culture and resistance in slave and post-slave societies. Her most recent publications include 'From Slavery to Freedom: Black Women, Cultural Identity and Resistance in Caribbean Plantation Society' in Thomas Bremer and Ulrich Fleischmann, eds. History and Histories in the Caribbean (2001 and 'The Dark Side of the City': Racialised Barriers, Culture and Citizenship in Britain c. 1950-1990s' in Werner Zips ed. . Rastafari: A Universal Philosophy in the Third Millenium (2005). She has just completed as book on Imperialism and Postcolonialism for Pearson Education which will be published in May 2006

Ref: H06P0459