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Publication Type
Conference Proceedings
UWI Author(s)
Author, Analytic
Paul, Annie
Author Role
Presenter
Author Affiliation
Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies
Paper/Section Title
Dancehall in Jamaica: On Babylon, Violence, ‘Poor’ Taste and the Disappearance of Jonkonnu
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Proceedings Title
Twenty-Second Annual West Indian Literature Conference: Caribbean Currents: Navigating the Web and the Word
Date of Meeting
March 20-22, 2003
Place of Meeting
University of Miami. Coral Gables, Florida
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Abstract
In contemporary Jamaica, the discourse of dancehall represents an ongoing subversive and critical subtext to the strictures and structures of ‘Babylon’. In the past, it was easy to see the Jamaica of slavery and colonialism as an outpost of a now legendary worldwide ‘Babylon System’. The persistence of texts of anger and rebellion in the lyrics of DJs and singers, and the remarkable similarities and continuities in the methods of containment and censorship exercised by postcolonial elites, compared to the responses of colonial elites, would suggest that on the contrary the postcolony continues to perpetuate the injustices of the past. The author explores recent debates in the Jamaican public sphere on the subjects of popular culture, violence, vulgarity, obscenity and poor taste and draws analogies between the current moralizing of the poorer classes by middle class elites and successful attempts in the past to stigmatize and drive underground popular practices and belief systems such as Myal, Revival, Jonkonnu and Rastafari.....
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