Capture Land: Race, Space, and Jamaica's Reggae Revival

Authors: Traci-Ann Wint*, The University of Texas at Austin
Topics: Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Black geographies, protest music, urban, inner city
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Executive Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

According to pioneer Toots Hibbert, Reggae music rose up out of Jamaica's impoverished inner cities as a way to talk about "every day things". Reggae was the music of the people who had been forgotten by the nation. It spoke truth to power, denounced the state, and criticized the elite. Reggae and its Rastafarian roots thus initially existed on the outskirts of the nation state. Following the world's embrace of Bob Marley, Reggae and it's accompanying Rastafari aesthetic, once abject have become central to Jamaican tourism and national identity. The cooptation of Reggae music by the state was accompanied by a release of it by the people it was initially created for who turned to dancehall to express their grouses. Acknowledging the inherent contradiction in state cooptation of Reggae music, this paper examines the space opened by capitalism’s embrace of Rastafari and interrogates the implications of the continuous positioning of Blackness as a commodity to be inhabited, utilized and discarded on a whim. In other words, I'm interested in the ways that Black resistance can be and often is commodified under neoliberalism and how it remakes itself. As, such I examine the original rise of Reggae music alongside the rise of a new Reggae movement, called the Reggae Revival which is creating art, and music in similar critical vein but considering that the artists are now from Jamaica's middle classes rather than from the inner cities, the words come from a difference geographic and economic space.

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