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 Prologue: Cultural Studies - The...
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Caribbean Quarterly
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Table of Contents
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    Front Matter
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    Prologue: Cultural Studies - The Way Forward
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Full Text
ISSN 0008-6495


Caribbean Quarterly
Vol. 51, Nos.3&4
Sept-Dec. 2005

euetuae Studies

a Uew



VOL. 51, Nos. 3&4 SEPT-DEC 2005


(Copyright reserved and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden)
Cultural Studies New Generation Scholars
Foreword iv
PROLOGUE Cultural Studies The Way Forward v
Rex Nettllc/or
Birth's encrypted Messages 1
Christine Allison
Sensitive Scholarship: A Review of Rastafari Literature(s)
Jalani Niiah
Does The Caribbean Body Daaance Or Daunce? An exploration of Modem Con-
temporary Dance from a Caribbean Perspective 35
L Antoinette Sine,.
'Dis Slackness Ting' A Dichotomizing Master Narrative in Jamaican Dancehall 55
Sonja Niah Stanley
Challenging Negative Stereotyping and Monolithic Constructons Through Carib-
bean Studie. 77
Camille Hernander-Rainidwar
Socio/Cultural and Business Entreprcneurship as the potential key to our exit
from Crime and Violence 86
Horace S. Williams
Finding Families within the Communities Enslaved on the Mona and Papine
Estates, 1817-1832 94
Suzanne Francis Brown
Creole Language in Kingston: The Emergence of Basilectal Varieties 1692-1865 109
Michelle Stewart

Books Received 133
Abstracts 134
Notes on Contributors 138
Information for Contributors 139



Editorial Committee
The Hon. Rex Nettleford, Vice Chancellor Emeritus, UWI, and Editor.
Sir Roy Augier, Professor Emeritus, History, Mona.
Professor H. Beckles, Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal, UWI, Cave Hill.
Professor L. Carrington, PVC, Non Campus Countries and Distance Education
Professor B. Chevannes, Research Fellow, Mona School of Business, UWI, Mona
Professor K. Hall, PVC and Principal, UWI, Mona.
Professor Wayne Hunte, PVC Research, UWI, St. Augustine
Professor B.Lalla, Dept of Liberal Arts, Faculty of Arts and Education, UWI,St.Augustine
Professor the Hon. E. Morrison, PVC, Granduate Studies and Research, UWI, Mona
Dr. H Simmons-McDonald, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Education, UWI, Cave Hill
J. R. Periera, Vice Principal and Director, Cultural Studies, UWI, Mona
Linda Speth, General Manager, UWI Press
Dr. B. Tewarie, PVC and Principal, UWI, St. Augustine
Dr. V.Salter, CSI, Managing Editor, Ex Officio
All correspondence and contributions should be addressed to: The Editor,
Caribbean Quarterly, Cultural Studies Initiative, University of the West Indies,
PO Box 130, Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica. Tel. No. and Fax 876-970-3261
Email: veronica.salter@uwimona.edu.jm, or cq@uwimona.edu.jm
Manuscripts -We invite readers to submit manuscripts or recommend subjects
which they would like to see discussed in Caribbean Quarterly. Articles and book
reviews of relevance to the Caribbean will be gratefully received. Authors should
refer to the guidelines on this web page. Articles submitted are not returned.
Contributors are asked not to send international postal coupons for this purpose.
Exchanges: Exchanges are conducted by the Gifts and Exchanges Section,
Library, University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica.
Back Issues and Microfilm : Information for back volumes supplied on request.
Caribbean Quarterly is available on microfilm from Xerox University Microfilms
and in book form from Kraus-Thompson Reprint Ltd.
Abstract and Index 1949-2003 Author Keyword and Subject Index available as
a hard copy and shortly on the website. The journal is abstracted by AES and
indexed by HAPI

This Special Double Issue, Cultural Studies New Generation Schol-
ars, Vol.5 I, numbers 3&4, September December 2005, comprises seven essays
selected from graduate students pursuing Cultural Studies or related fields .Details
of the papers can be found in the abstracts, suffice it to say that the Cultural papers
cover such diverse topics as; birthing, 'slackness' in dancehall, Caribbean dance,
Rastafari, the failure of the educational system to combat crime and violence
Education and Poverty. Some papers provide viable alternatives to the perceived
flawed systems that operate.
Two papers examine traditional fields in non-traditional ways. One ex-
amines population records and surmises on the possible familial connections as
well as the lives of the populations of Mona and Papine in the pre-Emancipation
period. The other paper examines the language structure in approximately the
same period.
We welcome the opportunity to publish the scholarship of these new

Book Reviews complete this double issue.

PROLOGUE : Cultural Studies The Way Forward

I would be the last person to make exaggerated claims for this new
attraction in the academy. I am referring to Cultural Studies, capital C, capital S.
As with all supposedly new discoveries/achievements, we need to be reminded
that it is only in the first Book of Genesis that anything was created from the void.
And in any case, it took some six or so days for that world conceived by
Creationists to take ideal, form and purpose. Even the Big Bang theory is predi-
cated on something existing before the noise. So it is with Cultural Studies! I, for
one, was amazed to learn that much of what I had been doing for years in the quest
for relevance and for the kind of truth that is rooted in the reality immediately
around me could be subsumed under the new mantra of Cultural Studies. I must
not scoff at the belated legitimization that this implies since the academy, by its
very nature, insists on a certain pedigree for any of its members to gain active and
meaningful membership in the fellowship. I acknowledge this without denying
that there are some very special advantages such marginalization can bring to the
academic outsider.
But much has changed with the great revolution that has taken place in
the knowledge business not only with respect to the instant transmission which
information technology affords communication but to the content of what is being
transmitted with its complex, textured kaleidoscopic contours demanding of all of
us who engage it, layers of insight, comprehension and grasp of the ever shifting
and diverse phenomena being observed. The implications for the whole task of
knowing, grandly designated "epistemology," are indeed far-reaching.
One of the first challenges, then, for the way forward is emancipation of
self from the rather tight and obstinately controlling structures of academic disci-
plines clustered (and cloistered) into academic categories called Faculties in the
British system of higher education and protected with arrogant clerical God-is-on-
my-side certainty by those who the American system of higher education refers to
as "the faculty" There exists still in many Universities, including our own, a
somewhat self-serving "purity" of vision about the parameters and perimeters of
this or that academic discipline preventing in too many instances desirable experi-
mentation and the sort of daring exploration which is what a University, as an
agent of intellectual discovery, is all about. To get stuck in the received/inherited
methodologies that serve investigation into the Humanities, the Social Sciences,
the Medical and the Natural Sciences, is a recipe for progression like a cow's tail -
that is, growing down.
That such a fate should be ours is, to my mind, highly avoidable. After
all, issues of ontology and cosmology which are both determined and informed by
our historical and contemporary realities (taking in both the imperialism of the
past and its transmuted latter-day version now called globalization), challenge us
to a quest for what if not permanently true, is constantly serviceable. The land-

scape to be reconnoitered is in any case itself so rugged, varied and complexly
configured that it needs not only bull-dozer but pickaxe and hoe (even fingernails
and bare hands) to get to the nuggets of gold the academy likes to call "truth"
The idea of culture, with its all-embracing and overarching paradigmatic
peculiarity, has been found by a great many people to be a useful vantage point
from which to strategize the reconnoitering. It is not by accident, then, that many
a multi-lateral development agency have been turning to cultural analysis to help
in achieving what economic determinism alone has not been able to achieve. Even
when filtered through the prism of such development imperatives as healthcare,
environmental protection, food policy and agricultural development, science and
technology, education and social development, it is cultural phenomena that have
been seen as the light to be refracted. For isn't it the overarching "thing" that
embraces all that eventually defines the human being as agent of his/her own
destiny in fundamental acts of creating, reproducing, and ratiocinating. Whether
it be the art of communicating (language), the positioning of a Maker (from God
or Shiva through Allah to Jah and the numerous divinities in our myriad Caribbean
Creole religious persuasions); whether it be the matter of ethnic certitude or the
design of valid kinship patterns; whether it be the unique products from the
exercise of the creative imagination (individual and collective and manifested in
music, art, dance, drama etc) and the specific designs for social living; or whether
it is the patterns of law and order in praxis embracing attitudes to authority that are
not likely to be disintegrative, or whether it be methods of production and ex-
change of goods and services as well as the preservation of the natural environ-
ment that can sustain life and living none of these fall outside the ambit of culture
which is the human glue of intellect and imagination that make it possible for us to
be engaged in discourses like this and manifested in all thought and all action.
The way forward must therefore be on this same journey of greater
delineation of methodologies to get to the truth about human society and specifi-
cally Caribbean society which is still to secure a knowledge-base underpinning its
integrated and interconnected existence and to explain to us all the inner logic and
consistency that keep us alive and kicking and I mean kicking i.e. jumping from
one foot to the other knowing that one can stand on neither.
So as the institution with major responsibility for the development of the
human resources of the Commonwealth Caribbean, the University of the West
Indies recognizes that it must take the lead in developing a cadre of persons,
grounded in a sensitive understanding of their own history and cultural heritage,
who can articulate and infuse this understanding into the society at every level.
Their research should form the basis of a new approach to education, with changes
in the curriculum which can create the building blocks for a just and more humane
Caribbean society.
Some of the fields being researched under the Cultural Studies Initiative
and should continue to be are: Caribbean Creole, Global Ethics, Governance for

the 21st Century, Creativity and Empowerment, the Media and Cultural Expres-
sions, Heritage Tourism, Cultural Policy Culture and Health, Cultural and Social
Capital and Caribbean attitudes to authority, justice, citizenship, work, etc. Hope-
fully, the findings will be able to provide Governments of the region and civil
society with research data which can inform decisions being made on matters of
social and economic development, and to ensure that the policy makers of the
region are aware of that interlocking which exists between an understanding of
one's culture and the possibilities for social wellness and economic growth.
The way forward assumes that the findings will also lay the foundation in
the University of the West Indies for an ongoing multi-disciplinary programme of
Cultural Studies which will underscore, through strategies to be developed in all
the Faculties, and through a study of the curricula, the fundamental importance of
a sensitive understanding of our culture to the enhancement of the quality of life
and dignity of the human being. The ultimate goal must be to empower every
citizen, and to ensure a clear understanding of the real purpose of a University
which is to empower, enliven, enrich, and generally make the community in which
it exists a better place by allowing the society to which it relates to see with new
eyes and new minds.
The threatened destruction of the fabric of Caribbean society (still in
formation) presents a major challenge to the University. Development in all its
forms is the goal of all Caribbean leaders, but this can only be accomplished in an
atmosphere of safety, and with a population grounded in respect for itself and for
humankind. It is becoming more and more evident that no lasting development
can be guaranteed in a society where a large percentage of the population feels
under-valued and with little sense of self-worth.
The Cultural Studies Initiative is still intended to address the underlying
problem through a diagnosis of the root causes, an analysis of these causes, and
recommendations for a new dimension to the education process, both in the
schools and through public education for the wider society, so that every member
of the society can feel valued and capable of making a contribution. This is meant
to relate to current urgent social problems of drug-trafficking, violence and urban
criminality as well as the chronic/endemic ones of under-productivity, unemploy-
ment and the lack of will for self-reliance.
The way forward must embrace this mission on the journey. Strategic
alliances are here critical for that journey. Education is a mandatory ally and
culture-in-education in the shaping of curricula in all the planned educational
reform strategies is critical. We can add to this the (a) literary arts (some Litera-
tures in English scholars have regarded cultural studies as integral to, if not
synonymous with, literary criticism though the lack of expertise in the social
sciences or history sometimes render such exclusively literary-based cultural
studies limited); (b) the Social Sciences (including such cross-over disciplines as
socio-linguistics as well as established social and cultural anthropology, Sociol-


ogy and Politics); (c) the Medical Sciences (especially Social and Preventive
Medicine now challenged by the AIDS pandemic and other lifestyle diseases,
Nutrition and Alternative Medicine itself challenged by ancestral myths and
lasting legends; (d) the Natural Sciences (e.g. Natural Products and Medicinal
Chemistry), (e) Environmental Sciences (here human action is a vital considera-
tion as in the treatment of forests, the course or prevention of erosion related to the
need and procurement of firewood), and (f) even Engineering (especially Civil
Engineering directly related to transportation, housing for human use) such are
the critical strategic allies of Cultural Studies programmes offered in the academy.
In addition there are such seemingly natural and obvious allies as History, Archae-
ology, Creative Arts (covering a large range of artistic manifestations) and Theol-
ogy (traditional and native-bred belief-systems). Entrapping the fledgeling
discipline called Cultural Studies into closed and hermetically sealed borders
should be avoided in the way forward since this may well turn out to be detrimen-
tal to the activity's core rationale viz. a multidisciplinary approach to the
generation and transmission of critical knowledge.
Two areas that suggest themselves in implementing the Cultural Studies
Initiative here in UWI are (a) Research and (b) A Programme for Artists in
The University of the West Indies must continue trying to identify
funding for Post-Graduate Research Fellowships in Culture and Entrepreneurship,
Culture and Work Attitudes, Culture and Community Development, Culture and
Education, and Gender Issues. IDRC (of Canada) and The Ford and Rockefeller
Foundations (in the United States) have responded positively so far. Private
Sector groups in the region now need to be sensitized to this beyond the sort of
project done recently by CLICO (of Trinidad) in mounting a competition among
painters for some 12 art works for its 2004 calendar. The (US) $300,000 spent on
this is after all a tidy sum. Hopefully, the findings that would emerge from
research similarly funded would provide critical information for future planning in
all aspects of national life in the region.
A programme of Artists-in-Residence, be it in the fields of Dance, Music,
Drama, Cinema, Literature, Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, or Festival Arts
should attract individuals with the kind of intellectual rigour and vigour that can
act as a source of energy both on the campuses and in NCCs an energy that will
spark an enthusiasm for creative thinking to generate new ideas in young scholars,
and challenge them to venture along new paths.
The combination of Research findings and the one-on-one contact with
creative minds that have established themselves over time through the integrity of
their own unique artistic talents could bring a new dimension to the academic life
of the University a dimension that will contribute to the concept of education
informed by the arts of the imagination, as against mere certification which too
often narrowly characterises institutions of higher learning.

The University of the West Indies has a unique role in the Caribbean with
a clearly defined mandate to act as a catalyst for regional development. The region
comprises some 15 territories served by the UWI with close association with such
neighbours as Suriname, Cuba, Santo Domingo, Haiti, Colombia, Venezuela,
Mexico and Central America and the French and Dutch Antilles as well as Puerto
Rico and the American Virgin Islands. We remain a wellspring of the cultural
diversity which is a global phenomenon of which the Caribbean is a microcosm.
Since the introduction of the Cultural Studies Initiative, applications have
been invited from suitable candidates for a number of Research Fellowships
working towards the M.Phil/Ph.D. Degrees in Cultural Studies. The way forward
must see to the acquisition of a greater number of such Fellowships. These
Research Fellowships are for programmes of research into the ways in which
people connect economic activity to those aspects of life and culture covering
different localities and groups in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Under this
programme, successful candidates should be required to formulate and execute
specific research projects on the culturally embedded constructs of the various
cultural groups and social strata of the societies of the Commonwealth Caribbean.
The programme should involve at least two years study and research, covering
fieldwork and publication of theses on completion of the work. And theses should
be judged on the basis of the possibilities for practical implementation of the rec-
The objective should still seek to develop a cadre of persons, grounded in
a sensitive understanding of their own histories and cultural heritages, and who
can articulate and infuse these understandings and research findings into social
and economic policy-making at every level.
The specific areas that have been considered and should continue so to be

* Information of the way in which people connect economic activity to other
aspects of their life and culture, their normative, ethical and spiritual beliefs
and their aspirations for themselves and their fellow citizens.

* Studies in the role of Gender relations in Caribbean social and Cultural
transformation. Much of this relating to child rearing and socialization of
male and female; family patterns and gender roles within them.

* Studies of local and regional networks for the purpose of developing mecha-
nisms for regional and local decision-making in the development of cultural
industries and other productive sectors, e.g. the economic scope and poten-
tial of popular music, cultural tourism in the African diaspora, dance, litera-
ture, carnival and other festival arts: analysis of the economics of the
international entertainment industry and the scope for increasing Caribbean
participation in the value chain.

* Culture and entrepreneurship: attitudes and behaviours of different sections
of the Caribbean population to: business as an occupation, savings and in-
vestment vs. consumption, long vs. short-term investment, capital accumula-
tion, risk taking, innovation, science and technology, and different kinds of
economic activities.

* Strategies and mechanisms for designing more efficacious systems of eco-
nomic and social management, especially at local and regional levels as
well as economic potential of the Caribbean diaspora as a source of capital,
entrepreneurship and technology, taking into consideration cultural factors
likely to impact on the design, formulation and operation of such strategies
and mechanisms.

* The encouragement of the creativity of ordinary people and the specifica-
tion of methods of realizing this creativity for social/cultural/economic de-

* Culture and work: attitudes and behaviours related to the world of work, em-
ployment, self-employment, work-related discipline, types of work e.g. man-
ual, clerical, intellectual), labour relations, cooperation, teamwork, flexible
production, employer attitudes and values towards training and skill upgrad-
ing; psycho-cultural factors impacting on workplace relations.

* The development of planning methods which return human-kind to the cen-
tre of all planning activity.

* Protection of intellectual property, copyright and the legal provisions related
to this.

* Everyday understanding of economic concepts such as Savings, Investment,
Unemployment, Wages and Salaries, Prices, Economic Development, Infla-
tion, the Market and how it functions, Devaluation and their relations to Car-
ibbean Cultural phenomena.
The way forward shall require a deepening and heightening of efforts to
address all the above with University's CSI being a driving force but with the good
sense to get added fuel through strategic alliances in synergistic collaboration.
Such is the path originally designed to be travelled. And such is the path
to be traversed further on. The way forward should be one that hopefully will help
bring into the mainstream of research in the academy a greater appreciation of the
centrality of cultural variables in the development equation and the paramount
importance of the human being to the development process everywhere, as well as
the validity of the arts of the imagination on the route to cognition.

Birth's encrypted Messages



The modem woman, ostensibly the product of several liberating forces, is
at the same moment subject, within this dialectical process of change, to the
weight of historical patterns and elements, to a world of illusion, to her own
self-contempt, learnt over centuries, internalised and often unconsciously rolled
out as the scarlet carpet upon which she strides to gain entry to the long-awaited,
heretofore sealed doors of the province of male prerogative. That run-on sentence,
as preamble, could travel another mile before it begins to describe the awesome
complexity of our situation especially when, in addition, that woman also belongs
to a historically oppressed racial group. The term "double jeopardy" was coined
by Frances Beale in 1972 to describe the dual discrimination of racism and sexism
to which black women are subject. Economic oppression has subsequently been
introduced as a third jeopardy.Speaking of the sexist oppression of women, bell
hooks pronounces: "As with other forms of group oppression, sexism is perpetu-
ated by institutional and social structures; by the individuals who dominate,
exploit or oppress; and by the victims themselves who are socialized to behave in
ways that make them act in complicity with the status quo."2 Examination of all
"institutional structures", especially those regarded as sacrosanct by virtue of
being rooted, for instance, in the sacred soil of so-called science, is thus impera-
This paper examines the nature of sexual and gender relations as they
impact upon birth and takes a comparative look at some of the often oppressive
ritualised hospital procedures and structures and at the agency and agents of their
perpetuation within hospitals in modem America and postcolonial Jamaica. The
liberating power of finding space beyond institutional confines to allow women
and families freedom to choose their way of birthing will also be touched on.
The Semiotic Nature of Sexual/Birth Relations
Angela Carter has noted that "Sexual relations between men and women
always render explicit the nature of social relations in the society in which they
take place and if described explicitly, will form a critique of those relations, even
if that is not and never has been the intention."3 The act takes on stark semiotic
significance; culture is a seamless cinematic representation wherein there are
pictures and scenes that can be isolated and studied but, in fact, each flows into the
other unbounded. Each isolated event, act or condition affects and reflects every

other and forms a map and representation of the other. The underlying themes
persistently thread their way through each scene, if we listen. These reflect the
"social relations" with which Carter must include gender relations.
Birth is sexual in nature, although in Western culture the connection is
discouraged and resisted, it lies along the continuum of the sexual act as an
obvious, though not a necessary corollary. The Midwives Association of North
America (MANA) as one of its tenets, states that it values: "Pregnancy and birth
as intimate, internal, sexual and private events to be shared in the environment and
with the attendants a woman chooses."4 Both the sexual act and birthing fall in the
realm of transformative ritual, sharing also the characteristic of engendering
intense bonding between participants. They also share several stages in common:
Both often begin in an ambiguous fashion ("Is this really labour?"
"Where are we going here?") and proceed to an intense, focused phase where
clothing is often discarded. This phase is marked in both cases by heavy breathing,
an altered awareness of time, a feeling of ego-dissolution to the point where the
participants) may feel that they are dying (sexual climax is called, in French, le
petit mort -the little death; it is also commonplace for women to express a fear or
feeling of impending death during labour, particularly at the spiritually and physi-
ologically liminal moment at the close of the first (opening, passive, yin) stage
where there is almost complete cervical dilation and the inception of the second
(pushing, active, yang) stage. An actual out-of-body experience may ensue. Heavy
breathing or panting may be replaced by moaning or in extreme cases, screams or
bellows followed by a climax (orgasm/birth). The aftermath is an awed hush, a
happy exhaustion coloured with feelings of elation and well-being. In the case of
birth of course, the focus is usually on the new being. One can draw an analogy to
the new state of being created by the conjoining of two people in a mutually
fulfilling, ecstatic union (and of course, at times the possibility of conception
exists postcoitally).
We may extrapolate Carter's quote as applicable not only to the realm of
sexual relations, but to the arena of childbirth as well. The compelling energy
created by these powerful transformative processes is one that patriarchy tries in
both cases to control and redirect towards its own ends. In both cases, if a woman
gives expression to the associated instinctual and natural urges, she is labeled as
undignified, lacking in self-control and even animalistic. Often, hospitals go to
great lengths to ritually separate birth from its (dirty and shameful) sexual origins.
"Sexuality remains a potent conceptual threat to the creative powers of technol-
ogy" with "obstetric rituals" being patriarchy's most potent response to this issue.5
For example, the creation of a sterile field for birth has been found by research to
be unnecessary as the only worrisome germs are iatrogenic, best defused by
careful hygiene on the part of the providers, when the woman's entire vaginal
area is sterilised it "graphically illustrates to the woman that she and her sexuality
are intrinsically dirty whereas her baby -- society's product -- is intrinsically

clean."6 Davis Floyd affirms the birth process' being "inherently sexual and
intimate", as a fact which threatens to "undermine the conceptual hegemony of the
technocratic model of birth" with its mechanistic assumptions regarding both birth
and the woman's body.
The Elevation of (Arbitrary) Ritual to Authoritative Knowledge
If we examine other areas in the dance of life, our feet adapt themselves
to various stylised choreographies. Social norms, patterns, customs, habits and
mores are vigorously inculcated in our early years and continually reinforced on
into adulthood. Where the behaviour is universal, and related to one of the
'instinctual urges', there is often a plethora of rituals, and rules One can surmise
that because such an activity is commonplace and crosses social and ideological
boundaries as well as those of age and colour and because everyone at some stage
is going to choose or feel compelled to engage in it, one of the ways for one group
to elevate its own status above another is by altering the fashion in which they
perform what is, basically, the same activity. Thus, to use a mundane example, if
the ruling class eat using twice the amount of cutlery and glassware and with
exotic ingredients than the farmer who prepares simple meals from his own
cultivated crops, the former are not necessarily enhancing their nutritional status;
quite the opposite may be true. Presenting the option of choice, while painting
certain choices as undesirable, inadvisable or even stupid and adding an element
of expense and/or rarity are all part of the arsenal. The diner in a Eurocentric
setting who, selects what etiquette dictates to be the incorrect fork or spoon, tilts
the soup dish in the 'wrong' direction, or places elbows on the table, among many
socially sanctioned habits, may then be excluded from consideration as belonging
within the upper echelons (unless there is some redeeming feature such as money,
status gained through marriage, media recognition and so on). Contrast this with
certain regions of the world where the right hand is used to eat and the left for
cleaning after elimination. There are obvious hygienic reasons why the left hand
should neither be used to dip into food, nor proffered to a new acquaintance. This
particular custom is founded on sound public health practice and rooted in concern
for familial and community well-being.
The latter statement could also apply to indigenous midwifery care
around the world. Midwives are often chosen by the community and, schooled
largely through experience. They become repositories for the accumulated wis-
dom of the community, and are trusted because they are an integral part of the
community. There are, of course, caring obstetricians as well. The system within
which they function, however, as in the example above, has adopted and gener-
ated laws, patterns and habits that are designed to garner to the profession power,
authority, status and the exclusive right of judgment and discernment as regards all
practices surrounding pregnancy and birth. Further, their own practices can have
deleterious effects, working as they do against the natural structure and rhythms of
the woman's body.

Brazil provides a sobering reflection of this. Latin women "in general
are more strongly socialized to passively obey men than American women: fur-
ther, middle- and upper-class women are often concerned with demonstrating their
distance from Indian and (black) peasant women.."7 To create social distance, thus
elevating their own status, they eagerly accept the dominance of the technocratic
obstetric approach. In urban public teaching hospitals the Cesarean rate is about
65%; in private hospitals it may reach 95%. Contrast this to 25% in the States
(also considered high as WHO suggests an acceptable rate of 5%). Bottle feeding
instead of breast feeding is opted for for the same reasons.
A historical analysis of the western way of birth, particularly as exempli-
fied in the US, showed that atv one time most women gave birth at home attended
by midwives. Male physicians (whose main arsenal consisted in applying leeches
and in blood-lettings and use of forceps and other instruments at births) began to
attend births in substantial numbers in the mid 1800s. In the early 20th century,
allopathic physicians gained general ascendancy over other practitioners through
the manipulations of monied interests (with the Rockefellers at the forefront)
which, through the Flexnor Report, legally elevated the current allopathic medical
approach above homeopathy, herbalism, midwifery and other often well-regarded
coexisting schools of thought.
As early as the 19th century, obstetricians had begun an organised cam-
paign to eliminate competition from midwives, and were almost completely suc-
cessful by the 1960s'9 Obstetricians became the self-proclaimed experts on birth.
In the 1980s, a groundswell of popular opinion challenged their hegemonic grasp
on the institution of maternal health; 'natural' childbirth was championed and
'choice' became a byword in the thrust by women (and consumer and women's
groups) to recover some semblance of control and naturalness in birthing. Birth
came to be seen as a reflecting the prevailing postmodern ethos which emphasised
the exploration and provision of options, in contrast to the univariate modern era
which preceded it 9 However this choice proved illusionary as the vast majority of
women continued to choose techno-obstetric birth in hospital, either because of
laws which hindered the practise and availability of midwives and birth centres or
because, despite research evidence to the contrary, they believed the stories that
they were safer with the obstetricians.
Birth is never merely a biological event, but "is everywhere socially
marked and shaped"l0 Much of the discourse on pregnancy and birth from a
cross-cultural perspective was done in the 1970s by female anthropologists who
were allowed access to observe first-hand, practices in various ethnic settings.
Frequently, what emerged were descriptions of "viable, healthy and culturally
embedded indigenous systems that have been or are in danger of being heavily
disrupted by the importation of a technomedical system that relies heavily on
machines"l The latter is unwieldy, costly to implement and maintain and, invari-
ably, is rejecting and disdainful of the status, importance and knowledge held by

indigenous midwife-healers. Furthermore the obstetric practices put forward in
the 'modem management' of labour are often of dubious worth: one scientist's
findings revealed that only "approximately 10% of routine obstetric practices had
an adequate scientific basis" Why then the acceptance of obstetric methods,
along with the beliefthat technology equals progress that undermines maternal
health care in both the rich and the financially challenged nations?
The reasonsare several. One is that the voice of the obstetrician has been
posited as the voice of reason, possessor of Authoritative Knowledge with histori-
cal and unwavering support from the white, patriarchal, capitalist system. The
obstetric system generates huge financial profits and is allied with the profitable
pharmaceutical industry. These vested interests combine wherever they exist
worldwide to form a powerful lobby.
Another is the pervasive fear of nature, seen as erratic and unpredictable,
and the romance with technology, embraced as facilitating control, which com-
bine to encourage women to seek a mechanistic escape route when faced with the
mystery and pain of giving birth. Western women may thus feel safer in the arms
of the machine. Formerly, in the '40s and '50s, American women would forget the
whole feral affair of birth after being drugged by their OBs with scopolamine, a
drug used in labour to blot out the memory of labour. Ironically, scopolamine is a
derivative of henbane, of witches' brew fame. In the 14th and 15th centuries,
during the witch hunts which swept Europe and America, when millions of
(mainly) women, many of whom were healers and midwives, were tortured and/or
slaughtered, mere possession and/or use of henbane was grounds for accusation,
arrest and trial as a witch.
Women have also been complicit in the implementation into practise of
the reductionist ethos that governed the ways they were viewed and treated, and
looked to technology for escape from the pain and disorder, and from "outdated
servitude to biology13 This set the stage for a shift in the balance of power in the
hospital arena.
The Flexnor Report gave doctors what might be termed cultural author-
ity, and economic and political power. They came to be seen as being in charge of
"the facts" and their particular definitions of reality and judgments were recog-
nised as a priori valid and true. They became possessors of Authoritative Knowl-
edge, the power of which resides not in the fact that it is correct, but that it
counts14 Participants all agree on the "veracity" and importance of this body of
knowledge and then make decisions and carry out activities based thereon. The
OB, in particular, as possessor of knowledge, takes unto himself the right to
control the birthing environment, the woman's movements, what procedures are
carried out with her as subject, to dictate when she may push and so on. The
woman's feelings and opinions are trivialised and disregarded, as if she were a
bothersome child; she remains an object of the patriarchal gaze and of patriarchal

Obstetric Procedures and their Semiotic Rationale
There are many procedures that are reflective of the arbitrary, non-re-
search-based, disempowering effect of most common OB practices. To examine
them all is beyond the scope of this paper, however, we will discuss two in
particular: clothing in labour and the lithotomy (dorsal) position. How are these
viewed, in and outside of the hospital; what is their significance?
As a midwife I have been at very few home births where the woman does
not ultimately rid herself of all her clothing. In her own environment, she is
sufficiently comfortable to divest herself of the formal trappings of the quotidian.
Even otherwise 'modest' women, wholly engaged by the compelling task of
birthing, strip as unselfconsciously as a snake shedding an old skin.
In a hospital, the woman is forced to don a regulation cotton gown. Both
drab and uniform, it not only deindividualises the woman, but imposes the seal of
sameness, recreates her as a mere apostrophe to life as well as positing her as a
subject, an inmate of and belonging to the institution. Freedom of movement and
expression are sharply curtailed, as the needs of the machine are imposed on the
labouring woman, her family and by extension, the unborn child. How far does the
arm of the state extend? Into and above the womb is the answer.
In examining the position for birth, we find that all across the world,
indigenous and rural peoples choose to squat or recline in a largely upright
position for the birth of an infant. The heiroglyph for birth in Ancient Egypt was a
squatting woman. An upright position is most effective for delivery as it utilises
gravity as a tool to assist in the baby's descent. The woman is delivered in the
so-called stranded beetle (lithotomy) position in most hospitals around the world.
Louis the XVI first insisted that his mistress assume this position so as to facilitate
his viewing her giving birth. Laying almost flat, with her feet immobilized by
stirrups, the disempowered woman is made more passive and the infant's well-be-
ing is also compromised as the vena cava (the largest vein in the body, returning
blood from the trunk) is compressed, often inducing fetal distress. The woman is
inverted with her bottom forward and up (in Western culture, up is good, down is
bad) and the emphasis is therefore on the baby, born of "science and technology",
which must then be born "up toward the positively valued world of men instead of
down toward the negatively valued natural world of women"15 The position is
useful for the obstetrician to comfortably view the emergence of the baby; for the
woman, the masculine figure standing before her with a mask and knife, becomes
a dominant and menacing figure. The position also speaks to the power of society
at (what should be) the supreme moment of her (the woman's) own individual
A nation's way of birth has semiotic significance relating to gender (as
well as economic and political) relations. We may further question the original
impetus behind the historical approach of OBs towards birth as wielders of

metallic instruments of control and pain.. Perhaps as Henci Goer has suggested,
"the whole obstetric edifice arose from a giant case of womb envy." Women's
power as keepers of the unknowable creative mystery of pregnancy and birth may
have raised in males feelings of inadequacy and envy. As a result, they belittled the
importance of women's role, denigrated women's bodies and voices, sought and
gained control over the process.16
We see this further dramatized in the media and nowhere so starkly as in
futuristic art such as the novel Brave New World and the film "The Matrix"
where fetal development and 'childbearing' are finally divorced from the female
Our new world is not so brave as yet, or is it? Midwives contiuc to fight
the medical machine that attempts to put mother and child to literal and/or
figurative sleep, perchance to cut, excising the birth experience often without the
women even knowing that anything has been lost. This is a kind of ritual steals a
woman's strength against the vicissitudes of existence on the planet. It stifles not
only the new mother's budding confidence but the independence of the new family
as well, placing the institution first. "To be with woman is to be one with the
ancestress who paved so carefully the way of entry into the world and placed
within it feeling, orgasmic feeling, bringing us back to union with the elemental
Feminine, the one without a name.17 Birthing bring women to their centre,
compelling them to ahypersensory, ecstatic and at times, painful reunion. For a
couple, this can be the inception of their making a loving place for family. Such a
project demands that the attitudes, energies and environment be in tune with this
intention and with each other. Nature makes us pay attention. We find ways to
circumvent her. In the hospital, the TV is often playing as the woman labours.
Those proposing that Her way be followed are seen often as rabid naturalists,
wanting to subject women to the horrors of childbirth uncushioned, and for no
good reason. However, in attempting to liberate ourselves from nature, we tie
ourselves to the machine. And our offspring are also thus bound. Anyone who has
seen a child isolated beneath bilirubin lamps when sunlight will do, who has seen
the many things which are added and taken away from the newborn even as s/he
lies within the womb, formerly inviolable, knows that such bondage is painful to
watch especially for those who have shunned the option of anesthesia which the
acceptance of lies would bring. Isolated in our plastic world, we continue to
accept the ways in which modern life separates us from our being and from each
Hospital Birth in Jamaica
As lay midwifery has been eliminated, the government-trained midwife
has become more important to maternal health care. The traditional midwife, or
nana, now operates only in certain rural areas. It is almost impossible to find a nana
to perform a home delivery in town. Over 15,000 women deliver at Victoria
Jubilee in the downtown area yearly. The population is largely indigent. In con-

trast to the hospitals in the States or further uptown (such as The University
Hospital of the West Indies) there are far fewer resources, human or otherwise.
The woman is thus not subjected to the IV or any prep, such as enema and shave.
However she is often not checked when she calls for it. Figures from 1987 show
that in that year, an amazing 65% of the women delivered unattended.19 Avoidable
complications result from this level of unattended deliveries. Some women deliver
two to a bed. Many women feel that they are ignored when they call for help.
During a short stint volunteering at Victoria Jubilee in November 2004, I also
observed that patients had difficulty gaining the attention of someone in charge as
the Hospital was understaffed. Everyone was lined up seated or standing along a
long corridor in various stages of labour, some quite vocal. The level of frustration
was tangible. Admittance to the delivery area could only be gained after the
woman was able to gain the attention of one of the nurses and prove to her
satisfaction that delivery was imminent. One such woman told me of her urgent
need to push. I brought her into the delivery area and went to locate the needed
midwife; as I was not employed there, I had been told I was to avoid doing
deliveries. Everyone was busy, and I came back alone just in time to catch a
plump baby girl. The issue of understaffing is a serious one. An earlier report
mentioned reports of abusive and hostile behaviour on the part of the midwives. I
observed none of this.
Birth in the hospitals uptown reflects more closely the foreign experience
described with cesarian section rates that are even higher than the States in many
hospitals and many of the same interventions being mimicked by doctors. Apart
from the fact that they are both ineffectual and undermining of the integrity of the
birth experience there is the issue of the incredible drain on the economy which as
a developing country, we can ill afford. Yet, the fascination with all things
Western which colonialism has imposed mitigates against our examining the issue
We in Jamaica are fighting an imposed image of ourselves as receivers
rather than repositories of wisdom. Michael Dash describes our situation as dwell-
ing "in a region made ominously intelligible because of systems of domination, in
which origins are obscured or degenerate into self-serving fictions... We are
further "traumatised by dependency (and exist) in a world that is the product of
others' dreams, where systems of knowledge and signification are enforced in
order to produce docility, constraint and helplessness."2 Patriarchy is to the
feminine as enslavement and colonisation are to the people so dominated, al-
though the degree of brutality and oppression was far greater in slavery. However,
the pattern of the one who has abrogated power unto himself then projecting the
feared or 'deny-grated' aspects of his own being on to the other applies in both
cases. Conversely, the other may come to signify the power which can consume or
overshadow those who define themselves as outside the dualism of earthly Crea-
tive Be-ing.

Reclamation of the lost body (stolen into slavery), of the lost voice
(language excised, expression denied) are central themes in the Caribbean as they
are in feminist writing and in the arena of birth. Dash posits the "quest for
self-formation" as "the only valid imaginative response" (and) "the task of con-
ciousness" as being ultimately necessary for liberation from the impositions re-
ferred to above. And yet, it is in the subsequent triumphant/ecstatic dissolution of
that self-conciousness that the moment of liberation is known: "When the body is
liberated...it accompanies the shout, which is explosive"21 (emphasis mine) and
again in a description of the individual consciousness becoming subsumed by the
Greater One in vodun: from perceiving himself as "one in full command of two
legs, a pair of arms", the dancer is then drawn into the "womb of space" as
"conventional memory is erased" and he becomes a "dramatic agent of concious-
ness"22 These representations could as easily be referring to the nature of (free)
birth. As the child's body is liberated, the birthing woman will often render a cry
or shout torn from her throat and compelled into the air. As the birth progresses
and delivery is imminent, the sense of her body fades, except where it is contigu-
ous with the baby's body, and the woman becomes one with the womb of inner
space, losing sense of time and space, to connect with the hard physical work of
labour, choreographed by her own inner wise woman. After delivery, feelings of
elation connect her to the transcendent power of birth.
Thus, free birth is a liberating and reclamatory process for the woman,
who has often found herself controlled by the procedures and attendant attitudes
surrounding modem western birth. (Routinely, from the '40s to the '60s in the
States women were literally tied to a bed during delivery.) In her own home or
another space perceived as safe, she can give birth to herself again.
As for many of the indigenous customs that attend birth, these are so
often found to be sound and proven methods which have withstood the test of
time. As we have seen above, a derivative of henbane, scopolamine, was co-opted
by the system for its own ends; not an uncommon story as 65% of pharmaceutical
medications are either derived from, or are synthetic formulations of, natural
products. As described by Derek Walcott our "shipwreck of fragments, these
echoes, these shards of a tribal vocabulary, these partially remembered cus-
toms...they are not decayed but strong. They survived the Middle Passage and the
Fatel Rozak, the ship that carried the indentured Indians...that carried the chained
Cromwellian convict and the Sephardic Jew, the Chinese Grocer and the Lebanese
Merchant selling cloth samples..."23
As Dash suggests, we have to bring these customs into the light of our
consciousness, examine and preserve them for our use, for they are strong; they
survived and for that fact alone, deserve investigation. In that reclamation, the
fight must be to create a viable space for these practices to flourish so that women
may have the choice once more of birthing in a holistic, nurturing environment

which grounds and empowers the new family in a loving and peaceful way. Given
the violence that runs rampant through our society, we can do no less.

Notes and References

I King, Deborah, "Multiple Jeopardy, Multiple Conciousness: The Context of a Black Feminist Ide-
ology." In Diana Tietjens Meyers (ed.) Feminist Social Thought: A Reader. New York: Rout-
ledge, 1997.
2 hooks, bell, "Sisterhood: Political Solidarity between Women." In Diana Tietjens Meyers (ed.),
Feminist Social Thought: A Reader. New York: Routledge, 1997.
3 Carter, Angela, The Sadeian Woman. London: Virago, 1979, pp. 19-20
4 Davis-Floyd, Robbie E., Birth as an American Rite of Passage. London: University of California
Press, 1992. p. 156.
5 Ibid, p.127
6 Ibid, p.67.
7 Ibid, p. 131.
8 Davis-Floyd, Robbie and Sargent, Carolyn. Childbirth and Authoritative Knowledge, Cross-Cul-
tural Perspectives, University of Califormia Press, London England. 1997. p. 9.
9 Ibid, p. 1
10 Jordan, Bridgitte, Birth in Four Cultures: A Cross-Cultural Investigation of Childbirth in Yu-
catan, Holland, Sweden and the United States. 4th Ed. Waveland Press, Prospect Heights, Ill.
1993. p.I
II Op Cit, p 5.
12 Fraser, Cynthia, "Selected Perinatal procedures." Acta Obstetrica et Gynecologica Scandanavica.
Suppl. 117. 1983.
13 Op Cit, p.9.
14 Ibid, p. 58.
15 Ibid. p 124.
16 Goer, Henci, Obstetric Myths and Research Realities. Bergin & Garvey, Westport. Conn., 1995.
p. 359.
17 Anonymous
18 Sweet Honey In the Rock, We Are The Ones
19 Sargent and Bascope, "Ways of knowing about Birth in Three Cultures", In Childbirth and
Authoritative Knowledge, 1997. p.198.
20 Dash, J. Michael, "In Search of the Lost Body: Redefining the Subject in Caribbean Literature."
In Kunapipi 11.1 (1989) p18.
21. Glissant, La discourse antillais, p 238.
22. Harris
23. Balutansky, Kathleen M. and Sourieau, Marie-Agnes, Caribbean Creolization: Reflections on the
Cultural Dynamics of Language, Literature and Identity. Gainsville UP of Florida/The UWI
Press, 1998. p.7.

Sensitive Scholarship: A Review of Rastafari Literature(S)



The understanding of Rastafari presented to the world through scholarly
interpretation has been coloured by the early interest of North Atlantic scholars or
their institutions. George Simpson, Susan Kitzinger, Carole Yawney and Klaus
Albuquerque are among the earliest with such interest. Noticeable in the class of
work is often an attempt to emphasise the Movement's lackingg' especially
through the lenses of religious evolution. Such a compartment if immediately
imposed on the Movement immediately misses its religious, social and political
subversive intention. Kitzinger provides us with an example. In updating field-
work done in 1965, in 1969 she writes:
"Yet with all this, Rastafari faith does nothing directly to recon-
cile the worshipper to the world he knows and lives in. If one
function of religion is to aid in adjustment to the inevitable, then
Rasta faith is sorely lacking in this respect. For instead of
aiding assimilation in Jamaican society, it serves to pull away
those who are already marginal to that society. Salvation is
catapulted far into the future. It performs the major psychologi-
cal function of reducing hopelessness in an otherwise hopeless
life situation... It has become an inturned self-generating and
self-justifying system of belief and action." (Sheila Kitzinger,
p.262, 1969, Oxford University).
This interpretation essentially rejects the foundation logic of the Move-
ment's critic and like Leonard Barrett in the first PhD on the Movement, picks up
on the Movement's dysfunction (hinged on the miraculous migration from their
land), and laments it injurious effect on the population's economic availability and
the potential damage it would do to the tourist market (1968, pp.176-177 & 189).
Both these assessments miss the alternative logic of the Rastafari consciousness.
They take as given the prevailing 'scholarly logic' and consensus within the
current global system about the expression of 'hope', and rational socio-political
approaches. Rex Nettleford is among the earliest Jamaican Scholars to have
worked with the Movement, in updating his reading of the Movement places a
more cognitive spin after years of study, he comments:

"[T]he entire Rastafarian Movement, has to be one of the most
dynamic movers and shakers of modern development, in the
Caribbean." (Nettleford, 1998, University of the West Indies).
Chevannes brings likewise understanding and has expounded much in
this direction and through anthropological techniques he has been able to establish
claims for the Rastafari Movement as constituting the most advanced African
Caribbean worldview.
My objective in this review is to highlight the Rastafari Movement not in
the religious sense but in the pedagogical sense, the "inturned" self-generating and
self-justifying system of faith and action or what Clinton Hutton refers to as the
"sovereign learner", providing a poignant critique of conventional systems of
leading and learning. In this sense the Movement may be understood as a religio-
pedagogy, by which is meant a system to link the knowledge of self-empower-
The "Rasta", "Rastafari" or the "Rastafarian Movement" has grown to
near universal proportions. There is no paucity of literature(s) documenting the
witness of Rastafari. Researchers have come from all the continents seeking
knowledge of the Movement and have accounted and documented Rastafari phe-
nomena in all the major languages. There are three main categories of writings
related to the Rastafari Movement in general. These are journalistic accounts,
which developed early in the 1930s (and still continues today), usually thriving on
the sensational or condemnatory reactions to the Movement. An example of this
type of Journalism is Billy Hall's "12 types of Rastas!" or "Should Rastas, too,
repent" In both these articles Hall embarks on what seems to be a life time
devoted to critiquing the absurdity which he perceives the Rastafari Movement to
represent while defending the pristine Christian religion in respect to which in his
view sees Rastafari committing blasphemy. Journalist lan Boyne has held similar
positions but in recent years (especially since 1998) he has show an increased
degree of 'tolerance' towards the Rastafari movement, now more focused on the
hermeneutical and cultrual significance which the Movement has brought.
There are academic expositions, which effectively begin in the 1950s and
cover a range of readings in a spectrum reflecting outsider North Atlantic impres-
sions to the local sensitivity; and finally there are the testimonial/ autobiographi-
cal2 from the Movement itself (not usually viewed as academic) which one could
identify as commencing with Howell's publication of the "Promised Key" (1935)
and is sustained in various expressions right up to the contemporary. Some of the
better known testimonials have come from Jah Lloyd (1975); Planno (1996); Ras
Dizzy (through ongoing written contributions); Barbara Makeda Blake Hannah
(1997,[1981]); Donald Davis (1994); and Douglas Mack (1999). Lewis Gordon
(2000) argues that this, the autobiographical mode of writing is common, if not
preferred, by Black writers even the very young, in a way which would suggest
that "it is as if living blackness by itself counts as experience...black voices

already locked in the biographical and autobiographical moment transform the
biographical status of those moment from the contingent to the necessary. He also
notes that quite a number of biblical texts are autobiographical but these writings
are interpreted by believers as moments of divine intervention). These are critical
insights as they speak to the nature of the Rastafari autobiographical impulse
which fuels the range of writers that the Movement attracts.
This review highlights the academic works, not to negate the importance
of the other two categories of writings (subsequently engaged in the thesis), but to
illustrate the strength and weaknesses in the conventional academic scholarship.
By far the most of the consistent academic study of Rastafari in Jamaica
has come from North Atlantic scholars or their institutions. The North Atlantic
scholars/scholarship is here recognized as providing great contribution especially
to the development of frameworks which help to place Nativist, Millenarian or
Chiliastic readings on the Movement, placing the Rastafari experience in a global
context of indigenous oppressed peoples reconstructingg their identities and no-
tions of freedom. But global comparative frames brought from such scholarship
can also be a limitation especially because also implicit in these sociological
readings are built-in biases towards representation of the "other" and there is a
taken-for-granted reading of a "pathological", "escapist", "dysfunctional",
"epiphcnomenon" or state of "false consciousness" on the part of these "others"
These characterizations were largely based on a 'deprivation theory', applied to
explain the Rastafari emergence. Such readings are presented for the formative
years (1950s-1960s) of the research on Rastafari4 Noteworthy is the fact that
Yawney (1979), and Pulis (1990), however both explicitly seek to challenge views
suggesting Rastafari as false consciousness. Yawney in fact argues that it is the
rest of the society that is "mad" for not seeing eye to eye with the Rastafarian.
Perhaps with the development of Rastafarian communities outside of
Jamaica researchers have been forced to pay attention to the apparent infectious-
ness of the Movement and its aesthetics. This has produced accounts from around
the world of the spread of the faith in these regions. Rastafari now exist on all
continents. As early as 1969, Kitzinger recognized the global potential of the
Movement seeing it as "capable of great political force, operating outside of
Jamaica and becoming an integral part of the whole Black militant movement"5
There are three Jamaican bibliographical compilations which treat the
writings of/about the Rastafari and other off shoots, namely Marcus Garvey,
reggae music and Bob Marley6 Indeed Bob Marley has been responsible for
much of the Movement's global appeal. Internet searches indicate that between
130,000 and 210,000 references are listed mentioning "Rastafari", whereas there
are more than 2,250,000 references to Bob Marley. The use of the term "Rasta"
within online references is more popular than Rastafari, with such references being
in the region of 900,000. Categories of writing in which the Rastafari Move-
ment is place include: Literature; History; Africa; Antigua; Canada; Caribbean;

England; Ethiopia7 Noteworthy is that there are no categories highlighting Ras-
tafari in a pedagogical sense (though I would like to acknowledge Cathy Stanley's
thesis "Expanding Small Spaces: Rastafari as Knowledge Producers" which views
the Movement as having potential contribution for adult education theory), which
I argue as being the Movement's chief contribution, an exemplar teacher-leader in
an environment devoid of positive role models especially for African males
Indeed the opposite understanding is increasingly possible as Makeda Hannah
(1997) rightfully points out that the Movement is often taken merely as a male
street aesthetic).
The most significant scrutiny of the Movement has come through social
anthropology starting with G.E. Simpson (1953). These researchers have dutifully
performed the role of eyewitnesses and scribes to history over the several decades
of their work. Key accounts have been contributed by Sheila Kitzinger, (1965,
1969); Leonard Barrett, (1965, 1987); Klaus de Albuquerque, (1977); Barry
Chevannes (1971, 1977 & 1994); Ruben and Comitas, (1975); Carole Yawney
(1979); Yoshiko Shibati, (1984); Jake Homiak (1987); to name a few of the most
impacting. Campbell (1987) and Van Dijk (1994) are also outstanding contribu-
tions to the corpus of literature. Roger Mais' (1954) artistic portrayal of Rastafari
in the novel "Brother Man" as well as Orlando Patterson's (1964) "Children of
Sisyphus are also significant contributions as is Owens' (1976) "Dread" All
these writers in their treatment of Rastafari are being classified as utilising a type
of 'thick description' method, with Patterson and Mais (native Jamaicans, as are
Chevannes and Barrett) doing so within the framework of the creative imagina-
tion. There have also been feminist and gender specific contributions examining
the experience and reality of gender interpretation within the Rastafari experience.
These contributions include Rowe (1998), Tafari Ama (1998), Yawney (1987) as
well as Lake (1998). Lastly there has been the 'pre-Cultural Studies' cultural
studies of Smith, Augier, Nettleford (1960) and Nettleford (1972). This review
highlights what is being described as the sensitive scholarship. I define this
"sensitive scholarship" as largely indigenous or local9 in spirit (one sensitive to
the struggle) as being rendered through the "creative imagination" with a kindred
spirit congealed over time and cognition of the experience, in expressing and
interpreting cultural reality. I am particularly interested in the "indigenous" not to
reflect a paranoid xenophobia but instead to discern what the Movement means to
those for whom it emerged. This is often eclectic with multidisciplinary and
seemingly decanonizing engagement textually, articulating nuanced emotion and
spirit, a type of Cultural Studies representation / articulation project. Erna Brod-
ber visions this creative need and its potential and argues for the "new historian
having to decide whether he will settle for 'icily detached' accounts or find a way
to incorporate emotion in his analysis"10 The so-called detached accounts in
many instances admittedly, informed from racist points of view and speak to a
different emotion and premise.

Works focused on Rastafari in Kingston are of particular importance as
it is in the urban environs that much of the congregational polity has been
synthesised, that African folk leadership is most advanced on a day to day basisI
Some are critical (Mutabarukal2 in particular) of the tendency to use Kingston
Rastafari to make generalizations of the Movement. I would argue that the de
facto hub of the Movement was operational in West Kingston especially between
the years 1954-1974. It is fair to say that the Movement from the 1950s showed
early cleavage between the rural Rastafari (autonomous groups from Howell's
activism in the island, east and south central Jamaica) and those who developed in
the urban, West Kingston space.
There are three clear generations of sensitive indigenous Rastafari schol-
arship. Of such Mais, 1950s; Smith et al, Patterson, Brathwaite, Nettleford,
Chevannes 1960s/72; and 1990s to present, represent the outstanding contribution
of the respective periods3 It should also be noted that a new category of Rasta-
fari/Reggae literatures also came into being after 1974, largely due to the rise of
Bob Marley as an international superstar advancing the Movement's image. This
category is often merged into popular journalism however there are known schol-
ars who have made substantial contributions for example Bilby (1977; 1985);
Cooper (1986); Dawes (1999) to name a few.
I now draw from the Caribbean's creative imagination rather than the
"creative sensation" reflected by the popular press. After the discussion of "crea-
tive imagination", there is a focus on the Cultural Studies genesis up to the
contemporary expressions of Cultural Studies as an expressed agenda of the
University of the West Indies.
The Creative Imagination
The placement of the "creative imagination" in this review is critical as
the Caribbean earliest expression of Cultural Studies scholarship comes from this
tradition. Louis Bennett, Claude McKay, Vic Reid, George Lamming, and Peter
Abrahams all are serious academics creatively engaged in "action research" Mais
is no different as indeed he belongs to this school and is one of the first Jamaican
scholars to engage in a thick narrativising of the Rastafari in the Jamaican soci-
ety14 Roger Mais' 'Brother Man', is now more than fifty years old this year
2004. It is an important novel and stands as an early study of the Movement
before its routinization or its popular appearance within society, with attempts at a
coherent doctrine. At the time of 'the book' itself the Rastafarian Movement was
just settling within the urban locus of West Kingston.
Mais achieves the convincing portrayal of the Rastafarian's sense of
tranquillity, self-leadership and intense power in producing social harmony, de-
spite being viewed as an anomaly by the community in which he lives. The
protagonist is a vital teacher leader in the community, loved and respected by the
women and children in particular (as well as some of the men, especially those not

jealous of his personal charm). The God-in-man concept through the protagonist
Brother Man, as the archetype of the Rastafari being, is also well represented15
Mais' work came almost as that of an apologist and he is paralleled as somewhat
of a Biblical Saul who upon being blinded by the 'light' of Rastafari, becomes
moved to render this sympathetic version of the Movement, which at that time had
little sympathy from those in the upper classes or the intelligentsia.
Mais succeeds in some ways, where the conventional academic treatise
cannot16 His success is the thick description he is able to provide about the
people from whom the Rastafarian movement emerges. He tells their life styles,
thought patterns, their worries and concerns, their day to day existence features
which today would be counted as the ideas pertaining to the Rastafari experience
and 'livity' Mais' lane brings a sense of the times and place, the contrasting
personalities within it enables a dramatic portrayal of environmental obstacles and
the situations of menace through the afflictions of crime, poverty, sexual desire, as
well as the influence of ignorance and lack of education, the experience of the
people with the law and their total needs, and their desire for survival. I pause to
note that Patterson's (1964) "Children of Sisyphus" perhaps more than any other
provides us with a visual sketch and literal theory of the environmental conditions
and social reality encountered by the 'Rastafarian flock' His use of the Greek
myth to draw analogy between the Sisyphean problematic and an apparent hope-
lessness in the Dungle is questioned by some particularly those familiar with the
tragedy of Sisyphus. The appropriateness of the metaphor is a moot point (among
some of the brethren) especially given the internal tension of this Greek reference
to a sect which sees itself as being a critique of Greek interpretation of its reality.
Brother Man transcends the typical glance that the outsider may be
tempted to hold. Brother Man is a character portraying great dignity. He stands in
their midst as an anomaly, in the way that Mortimo Planno typecasts the Rasta-
farian as "The Earth Most Strangest Man", as indeed he is the object of gossip by
his neighbours who think him strange. The story's backdrop is sensuous; convey-
ing the intuitive connections climatic parallel, mores,and even the smells impor-
tant to Caribbean personality expression. He mentions the tension internal in the
environment due to struggle, which is very much a part of the terrain. One of the
characters portrayed by Mais, Papacita, contemporary Jamaica's 'rude boy' or
'bad man' or even a 'hustler'17 helps us to understand what one might describe
as an alternative to the Rastafari experience. Papacita (perhaps) vocalises the cry
of many males: "A man come home, an no little happiness in the house. Nutt'n but
naggin, naggin' all de time" In the Caribbean the home environment is often
perceived as a female space. The tension especially in the Ghetto created by
spatial constraints and small dwellings added to by the seriousness of the survival
game created a perfect environment for conflicts to emerge. However Brother
Man's home is the safe haven within this community. This is the space inhabited
by Brother Man, the Rastafarian.

Mais Jamaicanizes the Christ story and gets to the heart of the message of
the Rastafari teacher-leader, almost as though to bring fulfilment to Christ's
charge to his disciples that they too could do the things he did. In a way the
demystification of leadership as exemplified by the Christ is well achieved and
rendered as a pragmatic human condition. We, the readers are compelled to make
an association with 'Christ', rendered as human, in real every day conditions (the
other characters in the book are also forced to make this assessment). This leader
is one who is motivated by a genuine spirit of concern to care for his community.
In spite of all his situational 'stress', Brother Man is presented as serene character.
He is self-employed as a cobbler through which he is able to earn a keep which he
shares with the community, even without them asking. He is the classic "justice of
the peace" and a Holy man.
Outside of contextualizing the situation of the Rastafari, Mais is able to
also speak to something which is often unrepresented in the movement's accounts,
that being the autogenesiss' out of which the Movement emerges. What I mean by
this is the fact that Brother Man reflects the self-transition, and self-confidence
which the "Ras Tafarite" brethren developed from very early. But perhaps even
more significant is Brother Man's aloneness, through which he achieves his
self-imposed 'urban social marginalisation', while centrally located like a heart-
beat in the midst of his neighbours. He seemingly has no real acquaintances not
even the woman who resides with him has he completely embraced. There is what
can be described as a fleeting treatment of the gender dynamics in Mais, where we
are shown Minette as an equal without subservience. This is the reverse of the
expected patriarchy usually rendered as subjugating for women (see Lake, 1998).
His countenance is remarkable and only the child (encountered while instructing
on the virtue of kindness) is able to really look into his face. To an audience with
a Western literary consciousness, there are clear parallels with the stories of Christ,
but from a more grounded and accessible perspective. Mais continues the play
upon the scholarly practice and it is with the aid of "His Testament" (p. 109) (we
are told Brother Man spent time writing) that we are provided with an intimate
understanding of his experience. This inclusion by Mais of "John Power's"
[Brother Man's] "will and testament" is a potential tension in the reading, which
we have come to understand of the Rastafarian thinking and practice The
notion of a 'will' seems to defy the celebration of life in rejecting death shown by
the Movement's exponents, many of whom refuse to make wills19 (Chevannes
posits that the rejection of death could have come after Mais' work or that Mais
himself could have not fully understood the issues surrounding death). Brother
Man to some extent reflects this rejection of'death' (and in support for life), (p.85)
where he is seen in a routine argument in opposition to Bro Ambo's necromaney.
He, Brother Man, however presents us with a challenge because the 'will' he
develops is more of a history, a 'documentation' of his life than it is instructions
for his after life (pp. 109-113). Through this effort to document "his story", though
presented in the language of 'will and testament', Mais identifies a writing tradi-

tion which still exists today as demonstrated by many elders and even more
contemporary initiates. Mortimo Planno, Sam Brown, Keith Berry, Jah Lloyd,
and Ras Dizzy among others demonstrate this characteristic). The purpose of such
writings when pursued is usually that of providing "truth", a record of a perspec-
tive, which is often unknown, marginalised and in many cases not understood.
This is the character of Brother Man's expressed intention.
There is a connection between the aura surrounding Brother Man and that
which is discernable of the earliest patriarchs, in particular, Howell. Mais relates
the allure that surrounded his protagonist: "they [the crowd] called him "Master",
and asked him diligently what things they should do to become his followers,
swearing that they would follow him, even unto death" (p. 106). Howell's follow-
ers behaved in a similar way. He, Mais, also helps us to understand the void
operating in the society with relation to education, health, employment, belief etc.,
and how it is that persons turned to the various beliefs and expedience in order to
find solace. Brother Man's character is not developed like that of a political
(official) leader; however the novel does allow us to examine the issues of
leadership afflicting the populace. Mais renders these issues and episodes in a
similar way in which we see the tales of Christ told: People wanting to cleave unto
him for healing and protection, to talk about his works, to question his sanity and
in the case of Minnette, she wants to reward him with herself. Minnette's story is
almost like that of the biblical Mary Magdalene, as she too is reformed from a life
of prostitution through Brother Man's influence. The backdrop on which Mais'
story of "Brother Man" is told is seemingly overtly biblical. However this paral-
lel, which might be discernible, should not prevent our ability to see the genuine
parallels between the revolutionary force which Jesus Christ is said to have
brought and that developed in this time by the Rastafarian who is viewed through
Brother Man. This is essentially the sensitivity which Mais is able to present in his
interpretation of the "cult of Ras Tafarites" Noticeably absent is a consciousness
of or a regard for the existence of a food taboo. This is a clear doctrinal tension
apparent in Brother Man, who is seen in one scene having a meal served to him by
Minnette, which includes the now considered taboo meat on top (p. 41). One is
not sure if this is not a deliberate tension introduced by Mais within his poetic
license to tell his own story (perhaps even to create a degree of ambiguity).
Perhaps even to portray Minette as the proverbial Eve temptress. However it
should be observed that the notion of Rastafari and patriarchy are seriously
critiqued by the Mais through Brother Man's rejecting of Minnette as the servile
female. Also, in the discussion presented by Mais, the phenomena of the dread-
locks and the presentation of a discussion of Repatriation Back to Africa are
Whereas Mais' creative imagination attempts to completely nuance the
early Rastafari this is subsequently updated and more fully explored in poetry by
Kamau Brathwaite who writes some twelve years later, (and perhaps in an entirely
different politico-historical context20). Brathwaite, as an historian trained at

Mona, has the double portfolio of artist and academic. He has been able to look
into and conceptualise the formation of a new world, what is 'Creole' society, and
still for himself construct an additional path and expression which is uniquely
Brathwaite and still equally befitting that of a Caribbean iconography. Much of the
journey taken by Brathwaite is expressive of the core of the Rastafari liberation
journey and ideals. His work is significant in placing an early diagnosis on the
issue of emergent new world identities as constructions of peoples under a com-
mon pressure.
It is in the freedom of his poetry, that Brathwaite's Caribbean identity-
theorising and understanding of Rastafari issues are demonstrated. He grapples
with the Caribbean genesis, the defining of the space geo-politically; the experi-
ences of transplantation from the African source and the looming omnipresence of
a limbo state of being21 as the state of nature of the Caribbean man, a Creole (what
Nettleford describes as being within an aesthetic reflecting the melody of Europe
with the rhythm of Africa). He re-links himself first to his ancestral homeland and
it is from this vantage point that he seeks to build a trilogy of the making of the
Caribbean. The comprehensiveness of Brathwaite's engagement with the experi-
ence of the Caribbean, and his embracing of native African expressions within his
work, allow us to see similarities between Brathwaite and a Rastafari scholar such
as Tosh. This comparison can be further extended if both men are seen as language
creators in the way they both deconstruct and reconstruct their expressions.
Within the Cultural Studies project Brathwaite's ideas constitute the beginning of
a discourse for viewing, writing and recording our history, and his work as a genre
of 'artistic testimony' constitutes the maturity and full acceptance of Caribbean
voice. Brathwaite as a traditional scholar and traveller constitutes a personage of
credible witnesses, but his work is more than witnessing; it is forward and
retrospective visioning.
Though there is no expressed Rastafari leadership documentation agenda
invoked by Brathwaite that I am aware of, "The Arrivants" (1973, [1967]) has two
poems which tersely captures a 'sensitivity to' and an interpretation of the Move-
ment in critical ways. The ethos of the Rastafarian search for upliftment as well as
the desire to return home to Africa are elaborated in the poem "Wings of a Dove"
This title also appears in early Jamaican musical recordings, which at a glance
suggest a desire to 'escape' one's circumstances through 'fleeing / flight' How-
ever Brathwaite would not so simplistically render a complex logic such as that of
Rastafari. This poem constitutes a study, even a potent historical contribution
brought in by this scholar. The Rastafari persona protagonist is identified in the
same way that Mais (1954) does, which is through the use of the name Brother
Man throughout the poem. Brathwaite provides a type of definition or delimita-
tion of Brother Man the Rasta:
"Brother Man the Rast
man, beard full of lichen

brain full of lice
watch the mice...
And I
In Babylon's boom
Town, crazed by the moo

Prophet and singer, scourg
Of the gutter, guardian
Town, rise and walk through the now silent
Streets of affliction...and hear my people cry...

There is almost a blurring between the Rasta man and Brathwaite. As is
noticeable, the persona also takes on the point of view of the 'I' These narrative
techniques have the effect of conveying the author's sensitivity which positions
him in a familiar (and familial) way and therefore renders a different type of
objectivity to his critical scholarship. The poem is entertaining without being
patronising, factual and deeply insightful; it defines Brathwaite at a cultural zenith
(a sort of "mediator intellect") as far as trained scholar meeting the folk scholastic
tradition as there seems to be deep internalisation by him of the experience about
which he is writing. He seems to represent an inherent suspiciousness that the
Movement holds for Babylon very effectively, and perhaps even hints at the
'political deception' that was directed at the Movement, perhaps concerning the
development of a Mission to explore the Back to Africa idea. Babylon is not only
described visually but it is not to be trusted and he thus frames its intension to
misguide is captured:

Them doan mean it, yuh know,
them cahn help it
but them clean-face browns in
Babylon town is who I most fear
an' who fears most I.

Pathos is the quality being emphasised without over glorifying even
allowing Brathwaite himself to be the harbinger of a prophetic hope. This hope is
a musical one:
So beat dem drums
dem, spread
dem wings dem
watch dem fly
dem, soar dem
high dem
clear in the glory of the Lord.

More critically even in this terse treatment of the Rastafari context,
Brathwaite is able to engage with the critical issue of Repatriation. This is
generally underrepresented by most scholars looking at the movement23
However more exceptionally imaginative (if one might so say) is his
poem given the Amharic title "Negus" (King), in which he embraces the divine
Majesty's title, and becomes likened unto the mouth piece (and scribe) for the
Negus Negast (King of Kings), Emperor Haile Selassie, in his potent pronounce-
ments on the phenomenon of colonialism and the psychological landscape left in
its wake. Whereas this poem is often thought to be rendered in the preacher
aesthetic (see Rohlehr, pp.262-3, 1992 [1981]), I suggest that there is a different
mood brought by Brathwaite as though operating from a consciousness, a medium
for the transmission of omniscience, a source for ventriloquism, as though pos-
sessed by the Imperial Majesty (some could argue it is this aesthetic that the
preacher motif engenders). This in my opinion is borne out by Brathwaite's
recording of the poem24 His use of the familiar Rastafari linguistic iconography
is consistent as with the earlier poem demonstrated in the way in which he applies
the term "principalities and powers" But his authority is that of the Negus Negast
and the tone of his authority is that of a judgement:
...it is not
it is not
it is not enough
it is not enough to be free
of the whips, principalities and powers..."
The crucial line of judgement, perhaps (intuitively) offered through
Brathwaite by the Negus Negast on his visit to Jamaica in 1966, he intones:
"where is your kingdom of the Word?" This question is poignant and speaks at
many levels to the new visions brought by the Rastafari, and perhaps could be said
to offer a critique on the state of readiness of the brethren in general. At the time
of the visit of Haile Selassie to Jamaica, in 1966, it was commonly rumoured that
with Him would have come the ability to repatriate the brethren who so desired.
But it is the sensitivity of Brathwaite and his representation of the 'unheard'
"scourge of the gutter", which is particularly remarkable. Brathwaite refers to the
victimization of the poor at the time of his writing the poem seen in the bulldozing
of the Dungle25(1966). This would have been fresh in the consciousness of the
society. He writes:
it is not enough to be fr
to bulldoze god's squatters
from their tunes, from their relic
from their tombs of drums...

The concept of "god's squatters" is potent, even oxymoronic, but it
communicates clearly the essential irony of the urban folk in particular. Brath-

waite's contribution to the scholarship is that of a Historical poeticism, which is
very much like that of the creative artistic tradition rendered in songs by the
Rastafari themselves. He brings two crucial contributions. These relate to his
identification of 'Brother Man' the Rasta man, invoking a kinship connection
maintained in the poem's tone; he is also able to construct his protagonist in a
mystic light, where he identifies him as a sort of John the Baptist ( prophet figure
heard but not appreciated) as well as he uses the aesthetics of confrontation / word
sound to represent the Movement's leadership. But perhaps most importantly
through this construction Brathwaite condenses all the emotion of the visit of His
Imperial Majesty to the Caribbean region in a poem. Brathwaite and Mais have
theses providing sensitivity in the representations concerning Rastafari contribu-
tion to the community. In both works there is evidence of attempting objectivity
about real life creatively; Brathwaite acts as poetic memory of Haile Selassie's
message to his Children, Ethiopians in the West just after the birth of these nations.
On the other hand Mais captures an earlier moment of the Movement, through a
study of a first generation initiate of the new "Ras tafarite Cult" Brathwaite gives
us a sense of the use of the 'ganja peace pipe', playing with images of the 'flight
and height' (even escape) while helping to experience the persona Rastafari as
well as to learn of the arguments criticising the Movement. "Ganga", as it is spelt
in Mais' (1954) is treated with less sensitivity and it is juxtaposed with crazed
behaviour as opposed to a more meditative connection made by Brathwaite26
Brother Man the Rastafarian is not seen to be a consumer of Brathwaite's 'peace
pipe' The omissions of certain other iconographic representations of Rastafari
such as the dreadlocks, the central agitation for repatriation and what emerges as
the unitary affiliation realized in the various mansions, in addition to food and
other doctrinal taboo help us to discern what might be described as the 'original
ethos' and impulse observed by writers. There is no mention in Mais of the
drumming tradition, which is observed by Simpson (1954) and the hope viewed in
Brathwaite's reading. Mais' Brother Man reflects the important nature of self-em-
ployment through his cobbler trade, which places Brother Man in a practical (and
non-marginal) model27 And Mais' character is undoubtedly a leader in the
community. These are valuable insights as the 'media' and the 'law', the institu-
tions through which the 'Powers' had historically tried to discredit the movement
as constituting an antisocial and undesirable cult Kwame Dawes (2004)
articulates it very well. He recognizes that Brother Man is a thesis on the "suf-
ferahs" strategies to self-direct in the bid to survive in the midst of adversity and
intense pressures. Dawes identifies Mais as having preserved,
"the purer version of Rasta Rasta as a devotional force, Rasta
as the voice of peace and love, Rasta as the force that makes
Jamaicans see Africa with hope, Rasta as Christ-like, Rasta as
something deeply rooted in the Jamaican capacity for survival."
(p. 10)

Dawes' view of Mais' "purer version of Rasta", could be seen as a type
of novelizedd sociology" or what 1 would connect as the genesis of Caribbean
cognition reflected by Louise Bennett, George Lamming, Mais, Brathwaite, and
others. These constitute a pioneering group of Caribbean cultural scholars, the
legacy of which is still seeking to establish itself today30
The Genesis of Caribbean Cultural Studies
The first significant indigenous scholarship, having cultural studies reso-
nance, by which is meant, intellectual practice utilising multi-disciplinary meth-
ods, comprising trans-national intellectual movements,31 and undertaken to
negotiate social power, has been the study of the Rastafari Movement in Kingston
Jamaica, by M.G. Smith, Augier, Nettleford and, (1960). This study done in the
form of a rapid survey combined with some historical sociology was able to attract
enough public attention to have its recommendations partly accepted by the
government of the day, by way of their exploring the possibility of developing ties
with Africa and dispatching a mission to achieve said objective.
The Report allows this thesis an entry point into the thinking of the
Rastafari leaders at the time and how their ideas contributed to the development of
this bridge between a misunderstood and mistreated Movement and the Jamaican
society, as well as with Africa and its Diaspora. Mortimo Planno and other
Rastafarian brethren visited the University to engage its higher quality of re-
sources to publicize the truth of the Movement. It was believed that the Univer-
sity, though still young, had the authority to develop a cooperative dialogue
between the Rastafarian Brethren and a society, which was extremely critical and
brutal to the Rastafari. The then principal of the University College Sir Arthur
Lewis recommended to the Premier Norman Manley that there was urgent need to
consider the plight of the Rastafari movement and to respond to their legitimate
demands, key among which was the call for Repatriation to Africa. This advanced
approach of the early 1960s has not seen a similar thrust on the part of the
scholarly involvement in the movement since. Augier (1999) describes the Report
as a good example of "action research" as we are able to see the linkages
between, community, government and researchers in very clear terms. Outside of
the achievement of a Fact Finding Mission to Africa 32, the Report was serialised
in the Daily Gleaner which allowed for a significant public debate33 All those
who were involved in the production of this work admit to having been in some
way permanently affected, Don Mills credits it to having been responsible for the
'-opening of the minds of us", and experiencing "a transformation", and also that
the issue of repatriation presented "us" with questions about Jamaica.3
How the Report interpreted the aspiration of the brethren, especially
given the specific invitation for help which produced it, is not the subject of this
investigation. Suffice it to say it created a spirit of hope, some would even say
false-hope, but there are those who argue that the Report delivered little 'real'
benefit to the Rastafari brethren, that quite the opposite occurred. The Movement

has provided a fruitful ground for academic work, without much interest in the
outcome of the 'lives' in the community of Rastafari generally that avail them-
selves for scrutiny. The profile brought to the Movement had been significantly
heightened and it is believed by some established the framework for "deprogram-
ming" the Back-to-Africa initiative. Specifically Ras Sam Brown became inter-
ested in political office and this is thought to have generated a splintering of the
urban brethren into a number of different sub groups and in some cases different
political affiliations.
In a sense the Report served a social function unlike any other work
related to the Movement. And it might also be perceived as a major contributor to
the routinisation of the Rastafari which was to occur within a decade of its
publication. It had required that the brethren engage with the government in a way
that was unprecedented, as N.W. Manley embarked on dialogue with the leader-
ship of the Movement in the construction of a Mission to Africa. To approach the
Government's discussion table required that a level of coordination be achieved,
and individuals elected who could convincingly seek to represent the Rastafari
Movement. It is as a result of this process the Mortimo Planno emerges to go on
the Mission which develops. The Report is however a landmark document in that
it brought a necessary dialogue into place. This dialogue produced a ripple effect
and assisted in the global awareness of the Rastafari. But of what value was this
to the situation of Rastafari in Jamaica and their determination of 'repatriational
The Report it is believed undertook a partial representation to explain the
need to tackling a perennial problem of belonging and long term distributive
justice. The Report, as it were represented one of the oldest repatriation cries of
the Modern experience. But one might also say that Lewis, the University
Principal, who submits the Report to the Government of the day, did as much as an
academic could have done (i.e. research and publish with recommended action).
The bigger issue some may argue related to the change of local government as well
as the granting of political Independence in 1962, when, as Nettleford (1999)
reports, "the Report was shelved" with NW Manley leaving office. One might say
that "Folk Philosophy" was the renewal of this link that the Report conceived
almost forty years earlier. Chevannes' initiative of availing up-to-date research
resources to folk scholars affords the further deepening of the sensitive engage-
ment of the Rastafari Movement.
Engaging Folk Philosophy
As a social anthropologist Barry Chevannes' work is critical and his
inauguration of Folk Philosophy demonstrates in part his importance as a relevant
contributor to the expansion of scholarship especially through the embrace of local
knowledge systems. Chevannes has been the principal Jamaican scholar whose
work deliberately focuses on the study of Rastafari in general. He has been the
most prolific indigenous scholar looking at the Rastafari. His work which spans

almost forty years has been useful in establishing ethnographic and historical data
concerning the Rastafari existence and suggesting that the Movement's core ideas
are a fundamental source through which a sociology of liberation, even a theory of
the Caribbean identity can be examined, as a trajectory of folk resistance practice
illustrating continuitiess' and a primacy of cultural 'ideas' 36 He views the Move-
ment as constituting a worldview, which speaks to the totality and interconnected
logic of the doctrine and philosophy. Chevannes' (1971) is useful in connecting
the folk ideas concerning 'leadership' and he provides an elaborate engagement of
the phenomenon / concept of leadership, and the Africanisation of Religion and by
extension its leadership pattern and aesthetic. He cites Revivalism and Rastafari-
anism as two forms of lower class Jamaican religions, which have partially or
entirely rejected white European culture and political power extended to a rejec-
tion of the entire philosophical system of Governance. Chevannes looks at a
possible explanation for the newly emerging character of leadership and postulates
a location in the notion of 'charisma' as sociologically debated in the relevant
literature7 He highlights shepherding and ingredients for its success. He men-
tions: a) a mission identified; b) a message; c) notion of a gift; d) recognizable
authority; e) receiving a gift. Further, he notes that if greater importance is
attached to the message than the person of the prophet, the "movement" could see
its leadership dispersing. This importance of the message and not its harbinger is
the significant feature of the Rastafari movement and the resultant spreading of the
message is the net effect. A latter work on gangs in the western fringes of
Kingston (Chevannes, 1981) provides us insights on the command of the Rastafari
in the communities and how it is that the presence of the Movement contributed
positive systems for leadership training and re-acculturation. In particular this
work highlights how it is that the Movement through Emmanuel Edwards' camp
and other visible Rastafari brethren were able to impact the consciousness of more
than forty percent of the Youth38
In more recent years Chevannes has shifted his focus from "microscop-
ing" the Movement's features through ethnographic study to more macroscopic
henneneutically driven reading of the Movement. His work on Caribbean family
has led him increasingly into a scrutiny of the situation confronting males in the
society. This is to some extent a logical development as the focus of the Rastafari
movement has largely been most directed at the Afro-Jamaican male. The recent
scholarship (using Folk Philosophy, 1998, as the demarcating line) by Chevannes
has particular importance to this thesis and is here reviewed in some detail.
After some thirty odd years of teaching and research at the University
Barry Chevannes (2001) inaugurating his professorial chair in Caribbean Anthro-
pology engaged the method of storytelling to distinguish the scholarly tradition of
Jamaicans and other Caribbean peoples. In this way Chevannes widens the scope
within which we normally perceive our teachers especially those who have oper-
ated at the highest seats of learning in the land. Stories Chevannes indicates:

"were extensions...of teachings and attitudes taught and formed during
the day...Anansi was for us not only a little devil we encountered after the sun
went down [through the Anansi Story], but he actually lived in the ceilings and
nooks of the house, and there we would see him in the days." (p.5, 2002)
The ubiquitousness of the teaching / learning tradition is highlighted by
Chevannes as we are left to appreciate the domestic, familial environment as a
central space within the expansion of social consciousness, and education of
individuals. Further insights which Chevannes brings through this engagement
with the pedagogic Caribbean tradition highlight the importance of symbolism
within the art of the Caribbean oratorical tradition. He relates the idea of "travel"
as well as the "crossroads" as important symbols in defining "who we are", and
engages Nettleford who he identifies as one of the most devoted (but difficult to
read) political scientists to the question of who we are. The synthesis of Chevan-
nes' search of Nettleford's argument is that "ambiguity" describes who we are.
Chevannes concludes that we in the Caribbean represent something else, different
from the nations from which we have been derived. When this is examined within
the conventions of the Greco-Roman scholastic tradition it becomes insightful
about who we really are at any point in time. Chevannes (2003) expresses
'ambiguity' as well as 'paradox', the latter being his specific application of this
reading toward analysing the Rastafari. In looking at Rastafari and the Jamaican
society as far as it relates to a sense of Jamaican-ness, Chevannes laments the great
paradox which Jamaica is for him:
"Remarkably this paradox of creative and destructive energy
not only emerging from and co-existing together in the same
space, but in fact also mutually feeding on and reinforcing each
other may not seem so strange at all when considered against the
background of Rastafari, a symbol of and source of inspiration
for the creativity but at the same time itself a powerful embodi-
ment of disorder. (Chevannes, 2003)
To that extent Chevannes locates the Rastafari Movement as an impor-
tant contributor to what Meeks describes as hegemonicc dissolution" (Meeks,
2000). In looking at the Rastafari Movement Chevannes identifies it as a focal
point of disorder in the post-colonial "non-revolutionary order" He further states
that through its embrace of disorder the movement is able to expand the limits of
traditional conventions and mores and often succeeds in subverting such existing
canons / conventions. He connects the Movement to the long standing West
African trickster deity Anansi, suggesting that the Movement may have sup-
planted the spider or maybe is the modem personification of that character mani-
fested in the movement as liminal (Chevannes, 2003, p.2). Indeed his 1971
connecting the Rastafari to a tradition of leadership observable among what he
then described as "lower class religions"39 The more contemporary Chevannes
scholarship moves the analysis and assessment of the Movement to another level

of scrutiny his "Rastafari and other African Caribbean World Views", seek to
inscribe more up-to-date and experienced readings of the contribution of the
movement to Jamaican society especially as they relate to the (re)issueing of
identity. To some extent it is this quality of identify which Chevannes seems to be
most concerned about generally, that being what we can become, in particular the
Jamaican male.
In 2003 Chevannes identified Planno as "one of the leading Elders of
Rastafari..." He goes further to indicate that "in the decade of the 1960s into the
decade of the 1970s, Planno was easily by far the most influential Rastafari Elder"
This prominence of Planno was especially in connection to young initiates of the
Movement who drew close to his yard to gain inspiration and knowledge from
Planno's clear vision and de facto leadership of the seemingly leaderless Move-
But what is the nature of this leadership that the Movement has offered?
In 1999, Chevannes posited that the witness of the Rastafari "has been tried and
stood up for memory; where Babylon and the oppressors erased memory, tried to
obliterate memory; Rastafari stood up for memory" Since that time Chevannes
has advanced that argument by inserting the reading of the Rastafari within the
expression of folk philosopher and thus belonging to a 'critical tradition'
Chevannes (2001b) frames Rastafari as Caribbean intellectuals, naming the Move-
ment as one of folk philosophy within a schema presented by Lamming ("Coming,
Coming Home"). Chevannes as does Nettleford (1999) argues that of the Rasta-
fari contribution could be credited as being "the most central, to the critical quest,
the critical question." Rastafari in the view of Chevannes becomes a central
source for production and consumption of intellectual ideas These ideas are
central to the consciousness of self and central to critical elaboration. But he
hastens to add the crucial and consistent argument that the Rastafari were not the
first folk intellectuals in Jamaica:
Those Africans who spun ...the wit and web of the Spider God,
those bricoleurs who recreated a culture of word power and
signification out of a lexicon drawn from the oppressor him-
self...debated on the meaning of Africa and redemption all
these were intellectuals a remarkable [achievement] that a group
of unlettered farmers and fishermen could out of the yards and
street corer of the Dungle and slums of Kingston have devel-
oped a coherent body of thought about the world. (200 1b)
Rastafari's contribution according to Chevannes is that of "rejecting the
ambiguity of the self' He asserts that "of such compelling power" is the engage-
ment brought by the Movement that wittingly and unwittingly it sees the "forging
[of] mediating links with teachers and lawyers and professionals, and consumers
of ideas, in a remarkable reverse of the expected flow of influence." No doubt this

ambiguity of which Chevannes speaks would also be featured in what Nettleford
identifies as "a fear of blackness" and the other social contradictions which also
work against the progress of the Africans. He identifies that part of the erudition
employed by the Movement is through its approach to the question of self from a
radically new direction, that being "from within" (Kitzinger's "inturned self"),
alluding to the development of iconographic dreadlock aesthetics as a part of the
radical turn "from within" methodology. The Movement's contribution is under-
stood to be that of a mediating force, a bridge for the society, keeping the
population in touch with its memory, its reality and its imperial legacy41 Chevan-
nes identifies Walter Rodney as having understood this function of the intellec-
tual in the way that the Rastafari does understand and perform its role as
mediator-intellectual. (Chevannes, 1999, 2001b, 1984)
What does this Selected Literature tell us?
A cloud of smoke surrounds the Rastafari and the value of their contribu-
tion to the larger Jamaican society. "Researcher biases' are among the most
significant issues transporting certain key features, experiences and thinking of the
Movement into public scrutiny. This is understandable especially in light of the
fact that the major awareness of the Movement has come through popular media,
the works of journalists and academics that have been fascinated by the anomaly
that Rastafari's critique of the society presents. Intimate knowledge of the Move-
ment has tended not to dwell on the contribution that the Movement brings to a
society seeking its own solutions to problems but rather there is great scrutiny of
the perceived dysfunctions, of the superficial aesthetics of the Movement some-
times at the expense of discernment of the inner logic it holds. This can be
understood for example in the way in which all interest and attention on the
Movement seek to focus on ganja as a potential problem. Mais deals with the
"ganga" problem in a way which supports its conventional victimisation. Brath-
waite's poetic treatment of the same substance does however offer a potentially
more insightful reading of its role and place in the society (albeit however)
communicated within the feeling of escape. Rastafari authors have an entirely
different reading of the Herb. This can be illustrated by Rastafari author, lawyer
and sociologist, Dennis Forsythe (1983) who transports the philosophy of herb /
ganja as the "healing of the nation", and goes further to demonstrate how it is that
the society is healed by the plant.
There is an element of restriction in interpreting of the Movement within
socio-religious representations which emphasize its conduct as expedient process
emerging out of dysfunctional behaviours43 rather than informed through broad
based research which includes self-study. This is supported by the fact that it has
been consistently suggested that the sacramental use of ganja mimics Christian
communion while making very little attempt to establish the connections which
demonstrate the ritual use of "ganja" and the pipe tradition among many tradi-
tional peoples in Africa and Ethiopia in particular Essentially the 'ritual'

application of the substance is not enough appreciated or emphasised within the
long established tradition of smoking as well as incenses being burnt during
worship and even exists in Ethiopia where some of the earliest water pipes have
been found45. It is my belief that the ritual use ofganja could not have been solely
adapted from Hindu tradition (See Mansingh & Mansingh), though there is cause
to argue that its wide spread resurrection may have been as a consequence of the
Indian arrival after 1847. There is also the arrival of Central Africans in Jamaica
about the same time as the Indians. Ganja referred to also as daggaa" in the
Central and Southern African region is widely smoked. Ganja has been the name
popularised by the scholarship but by no means is it the exclusive designation
(other folk references are "tampi and "wakkie tobacco", [believed to be Afri-
can]). Recent work by Chevannes has somewhat revised this position in recent
years by demonstrating the ubiquitous application of ganja within the everyday
health and lifestyle practices of Jamaicans since its alleged introduction by the
East Indians in the nineteenth century47 Similar arguments could be identified in
relationto the notion of "dreadlocks" and how its origin has been established by
researchers48 Mais' portrayal of Brother Man is that of a bearded man. At this
time it was the beard that was the common identity of the brethren in a society with
an English colonial aesthetic of the clean-shaven. Brathwaite approximately a
decade after Mais brings yet another social perception, this time as it surrounded
the emerging aesthetic of 'dreadlocks' We are given the view of poor hygiene,
lichen and lice and generally the appearance of a derelict and an outcast.
Outside of the biases with which ganja and dreadlocks are presented the
same attempt is often made in presenting the Rastafari exclusively as destitute and
socially marginal49 Where as these readings of marginality are also true of the
conditions of many Rastafarians it has never constituted the totality. There is
therefore little attempt to demonstrate the progressive economics of the Movement
(mostly visible through music and ganja production it could be argued). To this
extent Mais' Brother Man is unique and quite early renders a more successful
Rastafarian archetype as a man of means. Part of the important Rastafari critique
of society from the time of Howell has been the ability to demonstrate a credible
degree of self-sufficiency. Howell is reported to have been an extremely athletic
and 'flashy' character in the way we would perceive the 'Don man' of today50
Essentially music became to the urban locus what agriculture was to those like
Howell. The unmolested Rastafarian proved to be successful at all of his eco-
nomic undertakings. Marley was to later demonstrate this quality musically.
The engagement of the creative imagination has been perhaps capable of
the most eclectic reading of the Movement. Brathwaite for example alludes to a
number of issues in his poems including the political ethos and the racial nuances
operating within the Movement and the society. His arguments are provocative
rather than conclusive, visionary rather than prescriptive. His poetry arrives at a
type of sensibility which concentrates on that of greatest importance to the author.
His concern seems to be the social problems that the Rastafari emergence seems

focused on tackling. As an historian Brathwaite's sense of the stasis in Caribbean
society would have been acute and the poem "Negus" stands in this regard as a
classic. The sensitivity which authors are likely to bring to their research on the
Movement is further complicated by the colour and ethnicity of those who are
often viewing the phenomena. This is demonstrated by Chevannes in reviewing
"Dread" He is able to point to the issue surrounding Owens' accounting the issue
of 'race' within that text as one of the weaknesses of the production and more
generally Owens' positioning to the Movement by way of his outsider / insider
tensions. These issues are hardly resolvable in totality but are more indices
through which we seek to argue issues of difference or bias.
Perhaps however the most crucial problematic (or bias) the literature
brings is the representation (or lack of it) of the position surrounding the issue of
repatriation to Africa as a design from the leaders. Most researchers are anxious
to label the return to Africa as mostly a symbolic / spiritual gesture. In recent
years, researchers from mostly outside Jamaica have started to pay attention to the
historical development of the vision of repatriation to Africa in particular Ghana
and Shashamanie in Ethiopia. The poetic version of the argument for returning to
Africa is often highlighted as concerning the lost tribes of Israel. What is under-
emphasised is the logic, historically founded, of the claims to Africa. This logic is
usually ignored based on the Ethiopian centeredness of the Movement, an argu-
ment which most conventional academics (those unwilling to challenge the exist-
ing frameworks they have inherited) refute as being historically inaccurate as they
assert that West Indians came from West Africa. In addition to this, beyond the
Report (Smith et al) repatriation has not been the focal point of many studies51 of
the Rastafari Movement and one can say this has been among the Movement's
foremost desires. The intellectuals who have hitherto translated the Rastafari
movement to the society might have more generally helped to cement the feeling
that there is an 'escapist logic' entrenched in the Movement's desire rather than a
'distributive justice' in the argument surrounding Africa. For the scholarship to
arrive at this point the acceptance of Africa as source of the Caribbean experience
it would have to achieve a revalorization of understanding of self in the way in
which Blackness has been (and is still being) negotiated through the engagement
of the Movement with the society and especially among our theorising. It is this
that Nettleford regards as a quantum leap in the consciousness of the people, a
people seriously enhanced spiritually by a history of oppression (Nettleford, 1976;
In particular the development of Folk Philosophy marks an important
potential and maturity of the research environment. Folk Philosophy in seeking to
invent a space for critical engagement between the University and the producers of
knowledge from the folk traditions marks the type of development that demon-
strates the genuine contribution of the Movement (as well as other tradition) to the
scholastic traditions. The pedagogical value of the Movement is hinted at by
Brathwaite and Mais, this is in my view can only be appropriately explicated

through an eclectic approach to researching the Movement. Nettleford's com-
ments that when the Rastafarians came on to the University of the West Indies'
campus it suddenly dawned on him what was meant by those who viewed the
university as a type of"mediaeval sanctuary"
Predating Folk Philosophy has been an attempt to honour Rastafari in a
significant way through the production of a text "Chanting Down Babylon: The
Rastafari Reader", by Murrell, Spencer and McFarlene. This compilation of some
twenty-two articles includes an appendix detailing the "Who is who in the Rasta
Academy", (an 'academy' largely constituted of baldhead scholars). Despite the
fact that one might say that such a text provides significant evidence of the
pedagogical contribution of the Movement, the Rastafari Reader does not have
any significant treatment of the issue of Repatriation especially as practiced by the
In viewing Folk Philosophy through an African diasporic Movement
such as Rastafari one is able to engage one of the most highly elaborated systems
of understanding to have emerged in the experience of the African Diaspora. Put
another way, Rastafari is to the African Diaspora an equation to reverse the
backwardness of the society experienced through African slavery; it therefore
stands, I argue, as one of the most essential worldviews for the further develop-
ment of especially those people it was designed to legitimate. This engagement
with the ideas of Mortimo Planno as a study of one of the Movement's most
celebrated Elder Teacher-Leaders will help in stemming a gap in the scholarship
which has hitherto preference the testimony of various outside voices. Brother
Mortimo Planno, Elder Teacher-Leader of the Rastafari Faith in my assessment is
the quintessential Patriarch of the complex corpus of understanding the Movement
holds. He has operated for the longest time at the highest level of society in
holding a fullness of the reality that the Movement continuously demonstrates.
Mortimo Planno in his year as Folk Philosopher conducted a number of lectures
and seminars, his tenure culminating in a conference which brought together Folk
Philosophers of the Rastafari movement along with members of the academy for
recording and discussing the Movement's future52
It is important to note that this is not the first time that the Movement has
organised itself to take stock of itself and its directions. That tradition had been
established by Prince Edward, Planno, Sam Brown and others from the first
'grounation' in 1958 at Back-o-wall in Kingston. More recently in 1991, Ras
Everton McPherson organised a conference on the UWI campus examining "Ras-
tafari and Politics" (and there have been many conferences to have occurred all
over the world since). Like this conference chaired by Planno there was also
contribution from members of the academy and the Rastafari movement. No
doubt however the most successful to have occurred was in 2003 under the name
"Rastafari Global Reasoning 2003", with a steering committee consisting of
members drawn largely from members of the Nyabinghi but also representatives

of all Rastafari Mansions as well as the University. Planno has played some part
in all the above-mentioned events.

Of significance is the fact that Planno has written extensively about his
experience with the Movement. His book "The Earth Most Strangest Man: the
Rastafarian" is extensively engaged and its review constitutes a chapter of this
study, as are other concepts such as Planno's "New Faculty of Interpretation"; and
"Polite Violence", which highlight select Rastafari Leadership history in the
framework of Polite Violence. With this emphasis I have undertaken it is hoped
that the scrutiny of the Rastafari movement will expand beyond the restricted
boundaries of the socio-religious readings to attain a view of the Movement as
scholarly, with a seminal contribution to Caribbean pedagogy.

Notes and References

In the Sunday Gleaner, March 17, 2002, pp.Gl&2. In the Gleaner August 12, 2003, p.C3... See
Boyne "Muta, Garvey..." in the Sunday Gleaner. May 24, 1998, p.8a.
2. Lewis, pp.24-26.
3. Fredrick Hickling's psychohistoriography as cultural therapy holds the argument that traditional
culture was proven to be a remedy in treating inmates at the mental asylum. His strategies
were almost identical to those used by Rastafari teachers such as Planno in confronting and en-
gaging the society.
4. See Edmonds, E. (2003, pp.127-130) for a critique of G. Simpson, L. Barrett, O. Patterson and
Kitzinger in particular along the line of Millennial Escapism.
5. See Carole Yawney (1999), for focus on Rastafari in the Global sense. See Kitzinger (1969).
6. See Tereza Reid'
7. The University West Indies Mona, Main Library uses these as some of its categories.
8. Kitzinger identifies how it is that the Movement "usurps" the traditional female / mother centric
African Caribbean family in favour of the bearded father Haile Selassie. (Kitzinger, p. 260,
1969). I argue that in the focus on male role modeling the movement sought to mend the soci-
ety afflicted by a history of male marginalisation and absence Niaah (2003). There is recogni-
tion of Yawney and Homiack, who have viewed components of the leadership method of one
elder and eldership respectively.
9. Chevannes (1977), makes a case for "local" versus "international" scholarship. This distinction
of the "sensitive indigenous" work is in marked distinction to that which deliberate seeks to be
prejudicial and callous. Also see C. Stanley (2002, p.113).
10. In Jamaica Journal, Vol. 16 (4) pp.4-7.
1I. See Simpson (1956), Kitzinger (1969), Owens (1976) and Yawney (1979) for accounts of the
various congregational centres in West Kingston.
12. Mutabaruka is a Rastafari orator / poet, and Folk Philosopher also, who for more than 10 years
has operated a radio programme called the "Cutting Edge" He constitutes one of the contem-
porary leaders of the Movement and is listened to by a wide cross-section of the Jamaican soci-
ety (both Rastafarian and non-Rastafarian).
13. From about 1968 1984 the significant ethnography of the Rastafari Movement in Kingston was
pursued primarily through the researchers Carole Yawney who developed a personal connec-
tion with Mortimo Planno, and Barrington Chevannes who studied various communities includ-
ing some of the most detailed work on Claudius Henry.

14. Eric William's PhD thesis (1938), later published in 1944 as "Capitalism and Slavery" would
have constituted the vocalisation of a Caribbean sensibility coming into being about our history
and economic past.
15. Mais is thought to have drawn on the infamous sketch of the bearded villain "Wappie King"
who excited the attention of the society by the murder of a society woman's spouse in Kingston
in the early 1950s.
16. What is described by Chinua Achebe (1965) as the "Novelist as Teacher" is achieved and in
other places such works have been described as the "thesis novel"
17. The urban youth male has seen several transitions in their names and identity. The most recent
dispensation has seen the original youth male gangsters now being identified as "Shottas"
18. The doctrine of the Movement is now largely accepted as one that rejects the notions of death.
This was especially assisted by Bob Marley's refusal to write a will which placed his estate in
the hands of the courts to resolve its awarding among his family and kin.
19. Bob Marley the most famous case of dying intestate brought the philosophical stance to death to
the forefront, (see BBC, 2003). Chevannes has written about this especially in the context of
the Movement's members facing this question increasingly. See Chevannes 1998 in John Pulis.
20. Jamaica since Mais' writing has undergone a succession of Political changes which culminated
in the award of Political Independence in 1962.
21. Chevannes later identifies a "liminal" place within which Rastafari exists and ascribes it as the
source of the Movement's creative endurance (Chevannes, 2003).
22. See Brathwaite (1984) try to identify the elements, ethos and aesthetics of a Caribbean oral tradi-
23. The fascination of studying Rastafari in a global context should not be confused with the Return
of Rastafari to Africa. The former has been studied increasingly by North Atlantic based re-
searchers since the centenary of Haile Selassie's birth (1992) see Yawney, 1999. Yawney
(2001) has actually started to engage the Rastafari / Repatriation experience from the point of
view of the experience of the Return to Africa by those in particular in Ethiopia.
24. See Audio recording, "the Arrivant", Kamau Brathwaite, Disc 4.
25. See Rupert Lewis, (1998, p. 92), for discussion of the bulldozing of the Dungle shortly after the
visit of Emperor Haile Selassie
26. Chevannes (2001, p.33), indicates that Rastafari leaders prohibited the possession or use ofganja
in their assemblies to deny the police any pretext for harassment and imprisonment. Further he
note that the "Dreadlocks, however, changed all that"
27. This is in contrast to the paucity of skills training noticeable among the individuals viewed by
28. See Frank van dijk (1994), for extensive accounting of the media's engagement and promulga-
tion of negative stereotypes of Rastafari brethren in Kingston.
29. See G. R. Coulthard (1964), who describes Patterson's "The Children ofSisyphus" Achebe
(1965) identifies his own work as being a type of"applied art" as opposed to a "pure art", this
is a related idea to the novelised sociology, cited in "Empire Writes Back..."
30. Such tensions pertaining to the academy's acceptance had once surrounded the creative works of
scholars such as Brathwaite and Brodber.
31. Mato, 2000 & Pereira, 2000
32. See Government of Jamaica (1961).
33. See Daily Gleaner......
34. See Augier, Roy; Mills, Don; Alvaranga, P; Planno,M et al. (1999), Library of Spoken Word,
Radio Education Unit
35. Chevannes' PhD. was awarded by Columbia University, 1989. His contribution has been
brought through his eclectic engagement, rural folk upbringing, Jesuit and Classic schooling,
anthropology and a life devoted to teaching and researching Caribbean Culture. It should also

be noted that although Rupert Lewis (1998) thesis is catalogued under Rastafari its subject mat-
ter intersects Rastafari at points along its intended trajectory focused on looking at Walter
Rodney's intellectual contribution.
36. Chevannes (1994) p.xi.
37. See Hobsbawn (1959), Weber (1963), Worsley (1968) and Cohn for extended discussions of
Charismatic leadership in the sociological sense.
38. See Chevanne (1994) and also Newland, Arthur, for extended view of Bobo dread.
39. Subsequently Chevannes (2002) has shown a preference for the term "folk religion", this might
be as a result of less class driven paradigms to that of culture centered frameworks.
40. Daniel Mato sees Cultural Studies as a "transnational movement whose membership is made
[up] of intellectuals" Mato's use of the category "intellectual" is rendered to include "those
who are in diverse ways committed to the critique of current forms of hegemony, committed to
delegitimze established relations of power, and to advancing the construction of more just
forms of social life..." (Mato, 2000). This reading of Cultural Studies is in and of itself a part
of the Caribbean folk philosophy tradition especially visible in the Rastafari movement. I ar-
gue elsewhere that Rastafari emergence in Jamaica constitutes the genesis of a Cultural Studies
project. See Niaah, Jalani (2003)
41. Sylvia Wynter (1977) supports this view.
42 To borrow an application of concepts from Bratwaite (2002), I would say Walter Rodney repre-
sents a "Gula Quatti, or a halfway point between exile and freedom, and seemly the limit of
the conventional intellectual's potential.
43. See Horace Campbell, E. Cashmore and Billy Hall for example to find discussions ofthe Move-
ment in this regard. One attempt at greater object research as it relates to Ganja can be noted in
Rubin and Comitas (1975)
44. See R. E. Schultes and A. Hofmann (1992).
45. Maureen Warer-Lewis (2003) has tried to establish connections between the Caribbean and cen-
tral Africa in particular to demonstrate the evidence of such connections between these two re-
gion. For a discussion of the use of water pipes in Africa from the 14th and 15th centuries see
John Philips (1983).
46. Cassidy (1962), identifies the word as being of unknown origin coming into usage about 1952.
47. See Chevannes 2001. Also see National Commission on Ganja 2001. Also V Rubin and L.
Comitas (1975)
48. See Chevannes (1998).
49. Chevannes theorises about the margin from which the Rastafari operates which makes or gives
Rastafari its characteristic power.
50. Interview, Helen Lee (2000) St. Andrew.
51. In recent years Carole Yawney and Julia Bonacci, have both taken interest in the recent develop-
ment in the process of Repatriation, Yawney having published, 2001 "Exodus..."
52. The Conference called "From the Cross to the Throne: Rastafari in the New Millennium", took
place at the Undercroft at the University of the West Indies, August 15-17, 1999, See Radio
Education Unit, UWI, Mona.

Does The Caribbean Body Daaance Or Daunce?
An exploration of Modern Contemporary Dance from a
Caribbean Perspective


I sit and look through the window at the trees as they blow softly and I
feel my back receiving the wind, slowly rippling, beginning in my spinal column
and the sensation manifests into yanvalloo I stand at the bus stop watching the
Jamaican people labrish 2, communicating with 'dem-one anada ', through loud
expressive gestures; I know I am seeing the arms of Kumina4 Revival,5
Rhumba and Chango I walk, run, stride the mountains and valleys and I feel
every muscle in my body changing and being expressive of the voluptuous terrain.
The many pumping waterfalls are the Ashanti warriors revolting for freedom,
screaming to be remembered. Memory comes through the energies of Buru8
Bruckings Etu o, Palol Comfi2 and Nyabingi I watch quietly as the
people scream for homes, scream for their children are hungry, scream an unend-
ing scream as they fight to survive not merely exist and I come to realize that
because of the memories of our ancestral heritage, no Caribbean person merely
exists. I experience in my body the revolution of Reggae14 'Dancehall' ,
Rastafari16 in 'Bingi'17 and the 'evo/revo'18 explosion of an ontological 'Cari-
mod'19 technique as in 'L'Antech.'20
Caribbean Dance begins from a spiritual space, the ancestral grounda-
tion2 of the blood sweat and tears of the millions of Africans deposited on the
shores with a dash of China, India, and Europe. The vibration of swirling hips, the
convoluting spinal column, the swaying arms, the juxtaposition in the uses of
space, the contrapuntal rhythms of Africa, feet firmly rooted in the earth, inti-
mately and spiritually connecting woman with drums, woman with ancestors,
woman with man and woman with Gods. An explosion of movements
evo/nevo22 synergies through time, exposure and experiences. The ritualistic
celebrations of life bathed in the Caribbean oceans, rivers, sunshine and moon-
light. A voice for the voiceless. This is Caribbean Daaance.
What is the difference between Daaance and Daunce? The difference is
grounded in the inherited historical consciousness and is demonstrated on the
body. Spirit Daaance is the natural movement that represents precise identity for
people of different cultures and is found specific to each nation. Spirit Daaances
are the daaances of purpose that communicate the spirit of a people. In reference
to Spirit Daaance of different cultures, Judith Lynne Hanna in her article titled
Dance in The Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology concludes that:

Dance, a symbolic form through which people represent them-
selves to themselves and to each other, may be a sign of itself, a
sign with referents beyond itself and an instrument. Significa-
tion is integral to both verbal and non-verbal communication,
and dance is a key medium of communication in many cultures"
Spirit Daaances are those dances, which are the "key medium of commu-
nication" globally. The embodied memories via 'instinct not logic' give the
relationship between, as Kamau Brathwaite in History of Voice, expounds: body
"language and culture" (1984:5) and body "language and structure"(1984:5). This
relationship is the body's 'nation language' (1984:5). Brathwaite, states that
"People were forced to learn things which had no relevance to themselves"
(1984:8) This is an accurate evaluation of the training processes of the theatrical
dance body of Caribbean Modem contemporary dance whose iconographic move-
ment structure is imprinted with Euro-centric data, but devoid of historical move-
ment structure related to one's own spirit daaances, i.e. one's own nation body
Some examples of what I term Spirit Daaances are the classical Katak of
India, Samba and Meringue of Cuba, Lion and Dragon Dance of China, HipHop,
Shout of African -Americans, the indigenous daaances of the American Indians,
Vodoun dances (such as Yanvalloo for the Deity Damballa) found in Haiti to name
a few. Jamaican Spirit Daaances are many due to the influences of a variety of
immigrants who came or were brought to the island. The largest of the immigrant
groups, as is well known, was the millions of Africans who brought to our shores
their cultural expressions in every aspect of life. The journey from enslavement to
emancipation developed a product distinctively Jamaican in characterization. The
accumulated data become assimilated and acculturated through the processes of
evolution and revolution and resulted in hybridisation, creolization and eventually
to "Jamaicanization" (Cecil Gutzmore 2000).
'Daunce' on the other hand refers to the movement structures dominated
by the vocabulary of European Classical Ballet. This hegemonic training proce-
dure provided the genesis of and the training methods of Moder Contemporary
Dance. 'Daunce' reflects the culture of Europe from which it originated. The
training procedure for one to execute Daunce includes training the body to be able
to execute geometric duplication. So it became necessary to develop a basic and
deliberate requirement of attaining a 180 degree turn-out from the hip and of the
feet. Focus is placed on the centre and restrained flexibility of the spinal column
of the dancer. That foundation is not earth bound but elevated skywards. The
movements of arms and body in specified shapes are specifically designated and
although visually pleasing lack many of the shapes required of African-Caribbean
forms. A hidden dictator regulates the consciousness and execution of classical

To be fair to the Classical ballet form, however, it must be noted that
Classical ballet is extensively documented as the first technical training procedure
in Jamaica. Europe's imprint, accomplished through centuries of hegemonic
domination via seasoning, ac-culturization, hybridization and the process of creo-
lization is demonstrated in the Classical ballet that resides permanently in the
Caribbean and must be acknowledged as a valid presence. This remains the
accepted technical training procedure in Jamaica. We are globally aware that the
conscientious promotion of the Classical ballet since the 17th century from the
Courts of King Louis XIV through the establishment of the Academie Royale de
Danse to train professional dancers was successful. This, however, was not the
beginning of the classical ballet. It is recognized as existing since the 16th century.
Franklyn Steven in his article "From Ritual to Ballet"writes:
...the Italian Catherine de Medici became Queen of France
she used the royal exchequer to produce, in 1581, a superspecta-
cle which has come to be regarded as the first "true ballet."
Called the Ballet Comique de la Reine,...the Religious and
magical dances of other times were the products of particular
cultures, and each in itself had little beyond its particular cul-
ture. The rain dances of Indians of the North American Plains
would have seem as strange and useless to the African Zulus as
the Zulu ceremonial marriage dance would have seemed to the
Indians. Ballet itself springing from the restricted and insular
court life of the European nobility, developed in direction which
caused it to lose its insularity, and become a form of dance that
is understood both internationally and interculturally. The ballet
dancer, dancing for us, in place of us, has meaning and value to
humans all over the world." (Dialogue 1978 pp29,36)
In my view, Steven's statement shows disregard for the successful strug-
gles of Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Lester
Horton etc., towards the development of modern contemporary dance forms
whose languages create dances which can be understood 'internationally and
interculturally.' Steven seems to make assumptions about dance as a language
denying identity specificity which is of importance to people. The fact is that
Ballet is acknowledged as being European and is then served to us like medicine.
Still, there are some people who will admit that they never quite culturally
understand a ballet dance. Viewing Dance Theatre of Harlem's Fall River Legend
choreographed by Agnes de Mille, it was unmistakable that this is a Classical
Ballet Company. However, the choreographer in her efforts to reflect the time of
the event 1892, and the African American space as the location, coupled the
classical ballet as the language tool with the data from the ancestral memories of
the African American traditional folk forms. The African American data was
addressed through the use of specific movement structures; and the use of space

that constantly returned to the African ritualistic counter-clockwise circle. The
choreography was then able to reflect the African American historical event of
Lizzie Borden [An African American], who in 1892 was accused of the brutal
killing of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts.
It is also a well-established fact that the scientific methodology of train-
ing the body to execute angular, stretched, attenuated movement is successfully
accomplished through Classical Ballet. However to achieve a yanvaloo, for exam-
ple, which requires snakelike movements of the back, movement must counter the
restrain of the classical ballet form. The technique to achieve the snakelike spinal
column movement of a yanvaloo, which comes from Haitian ritualistic dance to
the God Damballa in the vodun religion, is not internationally taught in modem
contemporary dance. This is due to its specificity to a people, yet it is a movement
also required to define the presence of Africa in cultural spaces. Similarly, there
are many movements not known internationally whose origins are in religious
dances, which are not found in modern contemporary dance and which are not
addressed in the training of Classical ballet. Therefore, to achieve fluidity in the
snakelike spinal column, yanvaloo, while executing a bubble-shuffle in the hips
during a grande plie creates difficulty for the Classical Ballet class, so that a
marriage of the disciplines is not anathema. Note, for example, that currently in
Jamaica, in my own CARIMOD classes, equal respect is shown to both the
Daunce and the Daaance forms. In CARIMOD classes using L'ANTECH tech-
nique, dancers combine technical procedure and requirements of plies with the
technical procedure and requirements of bubble-shuffles. According to New York
Times critic22
"(they) did unexpected things with...hinged looking limbs and
jutting pelvises that pulled the dancers forward in second posi-
tion. Bodies looked as if they were carving up space as they
move through it" (May 30, 2005)
To decide that the Classical Ballet should reflect all people is hegemonic,
and is as Kamau Brathwaite emphasizes in his poetry It it it is not
enough"( 1967:222)
Let me now explain my understandings of Daunce by offering a set of
so-called 'commandments' that are related primarily to Classical ballet.

1) Thou shalt not be black

2) Thou shalt not have parallel muscles

3) Thou shalt disconnect the dance from the drum and from chanting

4) Thou shalt not have a 'bum' or buttocks

5) Thou shalt not have full breasts or be otherwise buxom, but should be
slender or even bony

6) Thou shalt disassociate the spirit from the dance

7) Thou shalt forget all ancestral memories/disowning all ancestral lineage
other than Europe

8) Thou shalt not rotate your hips

9) Thou shalt not bend nor contract your spinal column

10) Thou shalt give reverence to European and American constructs in
dance and delete the indigenous, traditional and popular dances as
mimicry and therefore unworthy.
In short, my interpretation is thou shalt be 'spiritually constipated' accepting all
the rules and regulations of others. One individual on hearing these "Command-
ments" commented, "Thou shalt be a robot: Thinking of yourself is prohibited"
Permit me to draw attention to the following vehicles of resistance and
revolution against the notion that only whites can dance ballet. African American
ballet dancer Janet Collins 24 pioneered the presence of black dancers in ballet by
successfully performing as the first black artist to perform on the stage of the
Metropolitan Opera House in New York. In 1951, she became the first black
ballerina (prima) with the Metropolitan Opera. The successful predominantly
black dance group Harlem Dance Theatre has revolutionized Ballet Companies
internationally. In the Caribbean, Alicia Alonzo of Cuba pioneered a similar
struggle both as a dancer and Artistic Director of the Cuban Ballet Company
housed in the Escuela Nacional de Ballet. Jamaican, Elizabeth Vickers in the 70's
performed throughout Europe as a ballerina with the Alexander Roy London
Ballet Theatre and with Yul Bryner in the film, The King and I. Ms. Vickers now
directs the Vickers School of Dance which trains Jamaican children of varying
shades. These children annually sit The Royal Academy of Dance examination
successfully, validating that the black body can Daunce. The success of such
groups gave rise to other Black Ballet companies thereby overthrowing "Com-
mandment No. 1." though not successful globally as many still adhere rigidly to
this Commandment.
In contrast to the above "Commandments of European Classical Daunce"
Ihave also formulated my Ten Commandments of Black -(African) or Spirit
Daaance to which Jamaican Indigenous and traditional Daaances directly relate.


Thou shall be any shade in skin colour

2) Thou shall have any anatomical muscle structure or body type
(buttocks included)

3) The daaance is movement of the spirit, mind and body in harmony
with the drums and chanting, therefore thou cannot begin the
experience without a drum, physical or metaphysical

4) Thou shall move your hips and the supporting spinal column in all
possible directions

5) Thou shall remember, preserve and disseminate ancestral
retentions, and continuities

6) Thou shall not execute the daaance without associating oneself
with oneself

7) Thou shall fearlessly celebrate your flesh and even eroticism

8) Thou shall be spiritually grounded

9) Thou shall give respect to elders and the ancestors

10) Each part of ones body may be required to move at different
rhythm patterns concurrently and this should be executed with
elegance and discipline

Nowadays the European Imperialist Daunce constructs are being de-con-
structed by the African (black) liberation of the Spirit Daaances. The European
ideal of dance limited to elitist groups, which have peripheralised Europeans
and non- Europeans who cannot meet the ideal requirements of body shape and
weight as stated in the "Ten Commandments" of Ballet Daunce is waning.
Afro-centric dance on the other hand is enveloping a larger population and margi-
nalizes only the dancers who are spiritually constrained. Historically, Caribbean
dancers have always executed both Daunce and Daaance separately and concur-
Judith Lynne- Hanna in To Dance is Human (1979) translates the embod-
ied experience of dance into the abstract language of the academy. Her guidelines
should be considered critical to Caribbean modern contemporary forms:
"Dance is culturally patterned and meaningful. It is not univer-
sally identical behaviour, a proven innate, instinctive response,
although the raw capacities, materials or tools are... An individ-
ual learns dance on the basis of innate capabilities, plus social
interaction....Dance as a system of ordering movement, a cumu-
lative set of rules or range of permissible movement patterns, is
one of the elements comprising culture. It reflects other cultural

manifestations and is a vehicle through which culture is
learned" (1979:30 -31)
In agreement with Judith Lynne Hanna's specific reflection on the art of
Dance "as a vehicle through which culture is learned", Professor Kofi Asari
Opoko in West African Traditional Religion refers to the documentation of Afri-
can experiences and explains:
"In the early literature on Africa, written mostly by non-Afri-
cans, the Africans' own view of their culture and religion were
either overlooked or deliberately minimized. The writers, who
were mainly European explorers, missionaries or anthropolo-
gists, all brought to bear on their subject the European precon-
ceptions about the non- European world. Each writer also
showed the bias of his own particular interest in the writing."
Considering the contributions of both scholars should bring one to the
realization that all aspects of non-European cultural expressions enjoyed hegem-
ony at some time or other, and should be factored into current choreographies and
training systems. Meanwhile the body-language presence reflecting only Euro-
pean Daunce cannot be accepted as an honest reflection of the epistemology of
Jamaican or Caribbean dancing, whose histories document the fact that the largest
influx to the Caribbean was that of enslaved Africans. It follows suit that the Spirit
Daaances of Africa form the dominant memory in Jamaica. In any case Spirit
Daaances of Africa, China, India and Europe, embrace those persons who resided
here either due to slavery, indentureship, or migration and persist in the Caribbean
cultural memories. In Jamaica the African deposits include, as documented by
Sheryl Ryman (1984:4) core types... represented by the names of certain
ONNU, HOSAY)" Those dances from Ms. Ryman's chart relate to African
deposits. Her chart was further extended to include dances such as Goumbay,
Calimbe, Bruckin Party, Mento, Shay Shay, Etu, Dinkie Minie25 Convince,
Flenkey, Gere26, Tambu, Bamboche, etc.
China's dominant Spirit Daaance deposits in Jamaica are 'The Lion and
Dragon Dance' India quietly retains a presence in its contribution to the mix in
their annual celebrations of Hosay. India, China and Africa have cultural data
embedded in the religious rituals for their dead and ritualistic celebrations of life.
Europe indirectly contributed the Spirit Daaances of Quadrille and Maypole. It
should be noted that the Spirit Daaances are as a rule dances of the people, dances
through which social communication and reverence occurs. Quadrille and May-
pole are social interactive dances not originating from the small upper crust but
from the large population of 'grass roots' people. Quadrille, found internationally

has become morphed into the cultural shape of each area it represents. So in
Cayman where the national dance is Quadrille,
probably derived from one of the Court dances ....By the
beginning 16th century the court dance was far developed and
its manners far removed from the British and the French. It was
danced in the ballrooms and outside on the grounds."(2001:7)

In other words, Quadrille evolved into a social spirit daaance. Although it's
religious ritual genesis as documented elsewhere reminds us that "The Maypole
dance of Britain was once done around a living tree. Druidic emblem of life and
renewal".(1978:27) As stated above, Spirit Daaances are of the people and by the
people. Cultural dance memories are evident until today having been kept alive by
the marginalized organic scholars who have penetrated the ritualistic practices
through social interactions into the cultural maze of Jamaica.

Jamaica retains identity specificity by keeping their inherent social philosophies
alive while simultaneously allowing the elevation of new creations by existing
sub-cultures. Those organic scholars who consciously insisted on shouting ances-
tral presence in the gait, language and customs and are usually unlettered and from
the lower socio-economic strata; yet they gain their accreditation through the
educational process of the Jerusalem Schoolroom26 They may hold prestigious
ranks in their spiritual community such as 'Deacon' in the Revival Church,
'Queen' or 'King' in Kumina or the 'High Priest' elder Obeahman. And as in the
case of the late Imogene Kennedy, Miss Queenie 'High Priestess of Kumina',
dance diva, who Brathwaitc describes as having the power of the Nommo: spirit,
force and memory of the word." (1978:47) Brathwaite makes reference to her
knowledge of the Ki-congo language when he says that, "It is she who remembers
and restores the past" (1978:47). It is the organic scholars of the traditional space
who remember and preserve the knowledge of source data and therefore contribute
to identity specificity and to the immortalization of the Daaance.

Looking ina mi own backyaad2, it became clear that the technical
training towards physical atonement of the Caribbean modem contemporary
dance body needed to be accomplished with one of its primary purposes being
resistance against identity crisis. In agreement with Judith Lynne Hanna, the
Caribbean dance body needs to communicate "itself to itself" (1996:147) by
including dance data that are dominated by knowledge of the home space inclusive
of the Spirit Daaances specific to the location. The dance body which can only
execute the theatrical techniques of the European 'other' and is unable to represent
the body languages of the Spirit Daaance present in our own backyaad may
become vulnerable to identity crisis by way of Stuart Hall's hegemonic domina-

tion, negotiated code or position, oppositional position(1993:101) and, in my
opinion, by cultural annihilation.
I therefore repeat that the modem contemporary body unaware of nation
body language is not an honest reflection of the Jamaican dance data. Such
limitation on a corpus that could shout ancestral messages is a disservice to our
cultural development, and should emphatically not be encouraged. In my experi-
ence and in my efforts to fulfill the processes of Purging and Observing and
Absorbing in order to develop a methodology for training the Caribbean modem
contemporary body, I developed my own method of body training dominated by
Caribbean information named the CARIMOD technique.Graham McFee in Un-
derstanding Dance explains the difference between Technique and style as fol-
...that technique is a precondition of style. With reference to
dance, the term 'technique' is here employed as it would be
when one speaks of 'Graham technique', 'Cunningham tech-
nique', 'classical ballet technique' Very roughly, technique (
on this conception) is bodily training for a dancer, inculcating
certain fairly specific sets of bodily skills. And then my claim is
(roughly) that individual style for a choreographer is possible
only against the background of such technique in dancers...We
will see (for dance) that Technique is a precondition for style
W.Ofotsu Adinku (1994:p. vii) in African Dance Education in Ghana
offers an statement which validates the need for new dance forms which reflects
our culture:
"For a dance to be developed to acquire a Ghanaian and African
Character, dance developers will need to draw on models of our
total cultural inheritance. Until the wellsprings of the dance
cultures are made to nourish our new dance forms, we cannot
describe our developments as healthy"
The combined thoughts explain the need for dance techniques which
train the body in a systematic procedure which "draw on models of our total
cultural inheritance" Over an 18 year period I have created specific to Jamaica the
Carimod technique L'Antech.
Observing and absorbing the ontology of the home space facilitated the
collecting of data towards documentation as text. The research process enables
one to stack data to be used towards developing mirror image movements of the
Jamaican iconographic traditional ontology. The movements were then codified as
CARIMOD, Caribbean Modem Dance technique challenging hegemonic body

languages in order to imbue the dance data with the grounded consciousness of the
yard from which it is sourced.
The processes of purging, observing and absorbing led to the excavation
of Evo-Revo synergies which validate preserved ancestral memories, Traditional
presence, and definitively Jamaican forms from the indigenous traditional and
indigenous formalized Jamaican dance languages. I refer to the lexical explanation
of revolution as "the complete overthrow or a complete change of an axis", and
evolution as "any movement into new formation; any process of information or
growth" These processes occur in some instances separately and in others con-
currently. An example of revolution is demonstrated in the post -emancipation
Bruckins of 1834, in which Africans mimic their defeated masters in a celebration
of the abolition of Slavery in Jamaica by completely overthrowing through "cul-
ture contact"28 the perceptions of the Plantocracy. Ex-slaves, by publicly costum-
ing themselves for the celebration emulated English royalty, wearing Euro-centric
crowns and dressing in garb of the 16/17th century European fashion. The props
they used mirrored European pomp and pageantry. The Bruckins dance is partly an
imitation of the European Pavane Court dances in use of space and technical
procedure. Nevertheless the emancipated Africans overlay their mimicry of Euro-
pean style with African movement, drumming and singing that Adinku (1994)
suggests finally acquires an African character. The dominating African movement
in the Bruckins dance is evident by the 'breaking' of the spinal column as a
resistance to the rigid spinal column of European dances and the use of positions
which strongly resemble the ritualistic African retention called Limbo29 The
earthy uninhibited placement of the African gluteus maximus with hyper-extended
legs centred within the earth, and hips that move in any and every possible
direction is non-European. A body language revolution using iconographic Afri-
can traditional movement has made a statement acknowledging the newly-found
freedom of the dances and proudly presenting their identity. The mix of movement
styles and forms simultaneously state that the slave master is not socially or
culturally better than they (the Africans) as they can dance their (the European)
dances as well as they can perform their own (African) at the same time. Hence the
'culture contact' is dominated by the African consciousness and the synthesis
becomes Caribbean.
The contemporary 20th century explosions of Rastafari Nyahbingi and
Dancehall provide examples of concurrent evolution and revolution. In Rastafari-
Nyahbingi the evolution comes from the religious practice and inclusion of revival
songs in their groundation, expressed to a rhythm that evolved from a synthesis of
Burru, Kumina and Revival, borrowing from and blending lyrics, dress, drum
rhythm, and the use of the Christian European Bible. The revolution is reflected in
the anti-colonial resistance against the recognition of African consciousness and
resistance against imperialism. The marriage gives birth to a newly found con-
sciousness in Rastafari as "The Healing of a Nation" 30(1993) developed through
the processes of both evolution and revolution. The Nyahbingi dance body ex-

presses dignity, liberty, neo-consciousness and an effort towards solidarity reject-
ing 'mental slavery'
Dancehall, on the other hand, is a livity31 in which the marginalized
people of the so called ghettoes of Jamaica shout for political and social attention,
control of their own space, visibility and acceptance of their presence, improved
living conditions and elevated lifestyles. Through their kinetic revolt, Dancehall
gave birth to a new genre of musical energy informed by ritualistic embodied
memories. This revolution continues even today dominating the dance and music
with ancestral presence. The Dancehall revolution implemented through the mu-
sic, lyrics, fashion and movement is a construct that emerged and created a 21st
century Jamaican identity superseding ancient Africa dominance of the 20th
century indigenous Jamaican daaance. The dancehall revolution is a synthesis of
ancestral presence, media influences, foreign infiltrations, and traditional memo-
ries as the evolutionary and revolutionary (evo-revo)tools of resistance against
Jamaica's unwieldy class structure.
C.L.R. James (1961:152) in his paper titled 'The West Indian Middle
Classes' shares his interpretation of the middle class West Indian when he states
"The middle classes in the West Indies, colored people, consti-
tute one of the most peculiar classes in the world, peculiar in the
sense of their unusual historical development and the awkward
and difficult situations they occupy in what constitutes the West
Indian nation, or, nowadays, some section of it"
In dance terms, the realization that the modem contemporary training
processes excluded our specific ancestral data and reflected the ideals of the
'peculiar middle class' created through the processes of 'ac-culturization', and
hybridization in the Caribbean. Thus training has been restricted mainly to the
Classical Ballet as the alpha and omega of dance instruction, hence the prolifera-
tion of the Euro-centric understanding of dance. In an interview with Jamaican
dancer, choreographer and educator Alma Mockyen (2000), she suggested that:
"For a long time, if the dancers' costumes in some Caribbean
dance choreographers' works were removed and if the Carib-
bean music was silenced, we would in many instances find no
Caribbean movement links. It would not be clear from the
movement structure alone whether or not the company of danc-
ers was Caribbean or Utopian. But thank God, there are signs
that things are changing."
That for her confirms the sub-conscious acceptance of the 'other' with an
obvious need to validate our artistic expressions by deleting the visual camou-
flages reflecting Europe's approval. Kumina, Bruckins, Nyahbingi, and Dance-

hall reject the visual camouflage and accept only the underlying constructs which
include percussive rhythms dominated by African influence, lyrics of resistance
and 'evo-revo' memories of metaphysical and physical presence of African con-
sciousness. They reflect the society's consciousness over a specific period of time,
enhanced by the physical and metaphysical presence of the percussive repre-
sentation of the drum, chanting and the DAAANCE.
The traditional and indige-traditional32 evo-revo daaances of Jamaica
and the rest of the Caribbean begin from the ritualistic performances found in the
ancestral memories. In order to achieve a holistic understanding of the aesthetics,
ontology, epistemology of Jamaican Caribbean Dance, the Ritualistic Perform-
ances are the ultimate finale and cannot be ignored. According to John S Mbiti:
"A lot of African music and songs deal with religious ideas and
practices. The religious rituals, ceremonies and festivals are
always accompanied by music, singing, and sometimes danc-
ing. Music gives outlet to the emotional expression of the relig-
ious life, and it is a powerful means of communication in
African traditional life. It helps to unite the singing and dancing
group and to express its fellowship and participation in life."
During the periods of my life in which I explored the evolution and
revolution, which I have termed the evo/revo synergy, manifested in the defini-
tively Jamaican dances. I came to recognize what I had only guessed before
namely that Jamaican traditional and indigenous form are married to music,
chanting, ritual, reverence and spirituality; and that African aesthetics dominate
the Jamaican ritualistic dance arena. This is understandable given the years of
African migration through enslavement in what was for them, a foreign space. The
dominant presence of Africa with the remnants of Asia and the prevalence of
Europe, have manifested evo/revo synergies. This evo/revo synergy is the nourish-
ment that feeds the dynamics of the Jamaican cultural landscape. The process of
observation during my primary research led me also to the appreciation of the
organic dance as initiated in the 'ritualistic performance' and from ritualistic
celebration. Such rituals and reverence give 'birth' to the 'daaance' documented in
each dancer's body as a primary conduit of communication.
Victor Turner in "From Ritual to Theater" (1982:13) refers to the argu-
ments of the great German social thinker Welhelm Dilthy when he states that:
The anthropology of performance is an essential part of the
anthropology of experience. In a sense, every type of cultural
performance, including ritual, ceremony, carnival, theater and
poetry is explanation and explication of life itself.... Through
the performance process itself, what is normally sealed up,
inaccessible to everyday observation and reasoning, in the depth

of sociocultural life, is drawn forth... A performance, then, is
the proper finale of an experience.
An unlettered Jamaican street youth, realizing that his lack of the aca-
demic requirements to enter a University alienated himself from that space, none-
theless, frequented the publicly announced free lectures in search of knowledge.
After one such lecture he whispered to me that the lecturer went to the depth of
Africa and left with vast knowledge (for which he was grateful to be sharing).
However, the Professor's lecture presentation showed the street youth how the
lecturer had achieved his information. The youth sensed that even though the
lecturer had met with men of great wisdom, he had come away with only surface
data. He had not gleaned the wisdom in which the knowledge was embedded and
which the high priests and elders subliminally imparted. That bothered the youth.
Indeed many achieve the knowledge of Jamaican dance using the academic route.
However, the path to the wisdom in which the dance knowledge is embedded, is
lost to such peripheral observers. The perceptions of the organic scholars from the
Jerusalem Schoolrooms about indigenous and traditional dance are thus frequently
missed. The processes of observing and absorbing properly applied should bring
one to the ritualistic spaces endowed with vast variety of source information in
which the dance "is the proper finale of an experience" (1982:13).
My research found that eventually the indigenous and traditional syner-
gies fuse, synthesize, and fashion the indige-traditional in Bruckins, Nyabingi and
the popular dances under the umbrella of Dancehall. Culture is not static and this
dynamism has resulted in further developments in the Formalized Dance arena.
There we find what is qualified as High Culture adjoining and bouncing off
Traditional, Indigenous and Popular Culture sometimes creating a synecdoche.
We have also the indige-traditional bouncing off the existing dominating formal-
ized dance styles and technique into indige-formalized 33 dance movements, such
as in Cuba the Modema Technica in Havanna and Eduardo Riviera's Technique
in Santiago, and in Jamaica, the stylized motif movements of the Jamaican Na-
tional Dance Theatre Company founded by the Artistic Director, Rex Nettleford
in Kingston, Jamaica, more than fourty years ago and L'ANTECH movements
created on L'ACADCO, over a seventeen-year period.
Modem Contemporary training in Jamaica and the Caribbean must take
into account that the Caribbean-Caribbean bodies are saying out loud 'De body
deh talk'34 That human body that daaances and communicates, is not merely a
metaphor, for in reality the Caribbean dance body tells the mythology, epistemol-
ogy, history and ontology of the Caribbean.
The research used phenomenological methods. While observing and
absorbing in my backyaad, I gravitated firstly, to the religious Spirit Daaances and
their rituals and next, to the impact of history on Jamaican dance. With these
guidelines as the deciding factors the focus became the traditional ancestral pres-
ence of 17th century Kumina, the Congolese retention which has been preserve in

ritual which include the ki-congo language, chanting, and Spirit daaancing; the
indigenous-traditional Definitively Jamaican 19th century Bruckins, which was
created to celebrate the abolition of slavery; the 20th century manifestation of
Nyahbingi, the groundation existing within Rastafari as worship and celebration
inclusive of chanting, drumming and spirit dancing; and the currently evolving
Dancehall, the popular explosion which envelops memories of all indigenous and
traditional memories into music, fashion, and dance.
Africa is historically documented in The Arrivants Those Who Came
An Exposition Of The Cultural Evolution Of Jamaica (2004:6). It is stated in that
publication that:
"Towards the end of the 16th century and early in the 17th
century, it appears that the trade (slave trade) shifted further
south to areas which included Ghana, Nigeria and Congo An-
gola thus introducing groups such as the Asante, Yoruba, Igbo
and Bakongo... With the coming of the British and the develop-
ment of Jamaica as a sugar colony, large numbers of Africans
were required...The slaves of the British came from what was
then called Lower Guinea...Some of the largest groups present
in Jamaica in the days of the British slave trade included the
Igbo, Yoruba, Asante, Mandinka, Wolof and the Bantu people
of the Congo/Angolo. Africans continued to arrive after eman-
cipation in 1838; these Africans were voluntary immigrants and
history documents the strong presence of the Yoruba and Bak-
ongo among these groups."
This documentation validated the presence of ancestral Spirit Daaances
as each area documented has a religion which traveled from Africa with them. For
example Bakongo and Congo was married religiously to Kumina. Ibo and Yoruba
relates specifically to the Yoruba religion and its offshoots of revival and the
syncretized Spiritual Baptist.
China is important is the array of cultural deposits and their history as
indentured people coming to the Caribbean is also documented as follows:
They first arrived in 1854 from Panama...1860's saw the
arrival of 200 more from other Caribbean islands....The First
Chinese to come directly from China arrived in the 1800's by
this time there were 4000 Chinese here...The Chinese here
always retained strong links with China. The Chinese as a group
are acknowledged for their food. In recent years, their music and
dance have been brought into sharp focus as part of our dynamic
cultural heritage." (1985:3)

East Indian presence also plays a role in the shaping of the Jamaican
cultural tapestry. It is stated that "Approximately 36,000 East Indians came to
Jamaica between the 1840's and 1917 as indentured servants" (1985:3). That
numerical force and their ability to freely practice their cultural heritage have
impacted on 21st century Jamaica. East Indian influences have found their way
into Jamaican indigenous music as, for example in Bingi the music of The
Rastafarian people. In addition to the Chinese and East Indian influences the
information about other African and creolized dance presence such as Gere are
Dinky Minie are included in the Carimod technique, based essentially upon
Jamaican traditional and indigenous information.
It needs, however, to be clear that in order for a CARIMOD technique
to include the social and cultural contributions of the Jamaican arena in one
configuration; synthesis must occur. It is noteworthy, that the CARIMOD techni-
cal theatrical training procedure accepts some principles of Classical ballet, but
these are positioned as the base/nadir with the Spirit Daaances of the home space
positioned at the apex/crown. It is simply common sense. Both occurred in the
geographical space concurrently and as such the body of the dancer representing
that space should be trained in both, recognizing both. In other words, it is
perfectly possible to create movement 'languages' that synthesize all the available
elements into one technical training procedure. In the Caribbean, Carimod tech-
niques, in my view, accomplish that synthesis. This conscious process accom-
plishes what Brathwaite describes as: "moving from a purely African form to a
form which was African but which was adapted to the new environment" (1984:
7) still allowing the body to Daaance. Constant hegemonic domination in Jamai-
can theatrical dance arena has resulted in the training process having to move away
from the European form, to a form predominantly African-Caribbean, and specifi-
cally Jamaican. This form would then be the nation body language reflecting
the nuances of the space and dominated by ancestral historical data.
I must point out of course, that the effort at synthesis and de-coding is not
new or specific to Jamaica. Decoding in black modern contemporary dance took a
turn to the Caribbean when African -American, Lavinia Williams focused her
research on Haitian Vodoun dances. Her work influenced the works of many
African American such as Katherine Dunham. Trinidadian Pearl Primus synthe-
sized many genres of dance such as Caribbean, African, modern contemporary,
ballet and African American black dances which had touched her spirit at different
times in her life. It should be noted that many of the academic dance researchers
found it necessary to spend time in the Caribbean looking for source material
which are still present there today. Ms. Primus, one of the first Black dancers to
pursue an academic career in dance anthropology stated that:
"To understand the African dance adequately, one should have
some knowledge of African religions, for in the ecstasy of a
religious experience the dancer becomes a god-form and the

body frees itself of its structural limitations. Legs, bodies, arms,
heads may move in seemingly impossible counterpoint."
African American dance anthropologist, Katherine Dunham, did her
research in Jamaican, Haitian, Brazilian, Mainland African dance and African-
American retentions. The findings from her primary research dominated her
choreography with iconographic movements that represented those geographical
areas synthesised with a modern technique base, classified the Dunham technique.
In the year 2000 1 was fortunate to have had a telephone interview with Ms.
Dunham who was in Manhattan, New York. In this interview she categorically
described her training procedure as a process, towards, as I understand it, black
modem contemporary dance consciously steeped in identity.
The development of The Cuban Modem Dance Technique is the icon for
Caribbean choreographers. Cuba is clearly documented as having been the first to
prove that Carimod techniques are indeed possible. Under the genius of Ramero
Guerra coupled with about seven other Cuban dancers such as Eduardo Riviera
and supported by Cuban president Fidel Castro, the Cuban Modema Technica was
birth as a tool of revolution and resistance. Cuba created this dance language in the
1940's for the training of the body steeped in the indigenous Spirit daaances of
Cuba. This Cuban Moderna Technica is an example of evo-revo indigenous
traditional movement becoming synthesized with both Classical Ballet and Gra-
ham to become an indige-formalised technique.
An icon of Caribbean modern contemporary dance is Jamaican Ivy
Baxter (Miss B) who pioneered the revolution for us today. Alma Mock Yen,
writing in Caribbean Quarterly, compared Jamaican choreographer, dancer, eth-
nologist Ivy Baxter to Isadora Duncan, in that sense Ms Baxter was the first
Jamaican to discard ballet shoes, allowing the dancers to dance bare footed. Miss
Baxter also led the way towards education, documentation and dissemination of
Jamaican traditional forms. In 1950's Ivy Baxter created full-length dances based
on Jamaican themes. Jamaica's first integrated full-length musical Upon a Sea-
weed was written and performed by members of her group to mark her company's
tenth anniversary. Miss B, as she was lovingly called, in an interview spoke to the
issue of connecting steps in choreography. She insisted that the many of dances of
her period were essentially full of poses and that when the dancers moved from
one step to another they used European steps and then ended in a Caribbean pose.
She argued that the connecting steps often have little relationship to the final pose.
She continued by saying that we have traditional movements, which should be
used as connecting steps to reflect the indige-traditional presence in our modern
contemporary movement structures. Baxter's dissatisfaction was expressed as far
back as the 1950's
Caribbean ideology and aesthetics are multi- layered with multiple-di-
mensional polarities and as expressed by Professor Opuko in Chapter 1 of his book

West African Traditional Religion (1978:1) "The writers, who were mainly Euro-
pean explorers, missionaries or anthropologists, all brought to bear on their subject
the European preconceptions about the non-European world." In order to restore
balance not only to the training but also to the documentation, Caribbean cultural
expressions need to be set down by Caribbean-Caribbeanists whose conscious-
ness is grounded in the multi-dimensional characteristics of the space. Trini-
dadian, Burton Sankaralli, in a paper titled "Pan African Discourse and the
post-Creole; The Case of Trinidad Yoruba" presented at the 2nd annual Culture
Conference at the University of the West Indies in January 2002, describes
Caribbean dance as being dominated by "a metaphysical pattern embodied as
actual ancestral community through a torturous history"(2002:6)
This 'torturous history' includes physical and metaphysical memories
of daaance, yet Jamaican traditional dance has for a long time been slighted and
overlooked as unimportant. A number of daaances remain unrecognized in we
backyaad. Can we find and identify those dances now in Jamaica? Not many of
us, if they exist, would be able to identify them. In some instances fragments of
body memories exist among our elders or some movement has become incorpo-
rated into others or have physically and metaphysically become encapsulated in
the memories that today inform the more recent Dancehall phenomenon.
The Jamaican/ Caribbean backyaad is infused with the smells, taste and
touch of musical memories locked into drumming patterns, religious retentions
and manifestations, which, if and when excavated may reveal more than dry
skeletons but may breathe through the memories of the rituals from which the
spirit daaance are sourced. On this basis, therefore, I insist that dance training in
Jamaica in the European classical and modern contemporary techniques must
desist from deleting the primary information of the backyaad's ritualistic 'shouts'
The aim should and must be, to recognize, synthesize and elevate that of which the
bodies of the elders speak. Indeed, Kumina, Nyabingi and Dancehall are pro-
moted but mainly or only in terms of commercial titillations, so that the true
meaning and significance of such daaances of continue to be overlooked or
discounted. It should be clear that those dances represent what Sankaralli de-
scribes as: 'metaphysical pattern embodied as actual ancestral community through
a tortuous history"
This tortuous history grounded the Caribbean people with knowledge
evidenced on the body. One simply has to look at the bodies of the Caribbean
dancers in a dance class or watch the sacred and popular dancers who are the
sources for these modern contemporary dancers, and you will know that Carib-
bean dancers bodies daaance as ritual reflecting the natural dynamics of our
cultural heritage.
Caribbean daaance is spirit, mind and body moving in harmony intermin-
gled with the drumming and chanting as one compete entity. The daaancing body
is always relating to the "socio -cultural" context of the Caribbean yard space.

Each daaance movement is a reflection of the inventory of historical deposits and
uses the body as a conduit for communication and information. Caribbean daaance
is never without a purpose.

The Caribbean body DAAANCES.


1. Yanvaloo: Ritualistic dance in honor of the God Damballa one of the deities in the Haitian vodun
2. Labrish: talkative
3. wid dem-one-anada: Jamaican patios meaning with one another
4. Kumina: Congolese religious retention in Jamaica
5. Revival: Religion which syncretise Christianity with African ancestral religious memories.
6. Rhumba: a rhythmically complex Cuban dance which also has an instrument called the Rhumba
box and a musical arrangements specifically called Rhumba.
7. Change: name of a Yoruba Diety, the God of fire which has a dance also named Chango
8. Buru:A retention which dates back to the time of slavery regarded as the lost retention. Buru is
said to have been allowed by the Plantocracy as they were work songs which lifted the energy
of the slaves. The Buru drums are said to be the same as the repeator, funde, and bass used to
play the Nyabinghi rhythm.
9. Bruckins: Created in 1838 by the slaves as a celebration for the Abolition of Slavery
10. Etu: claims Yoruba ancestral lineage dances of birth, death and marriage in which each etu fam-
ily has their own movement constant is a movement in which the feet are used for shuffling to
a 6/b rhythm
Palo: Congolese retention present in Cuba strongly resembles Kumina
12. Comfi: Guyanese ritual of ancestral respect
13. Nyahbingi: Rastafari celebration held in respect to Haili Selassi, also Nyabingi drumming
rhythm and specific dance
14. Reggae: A genre of music which was girth in Jamaica using a one drop rhythm
15. Dancehall: Modem movement of revolution and resistance presented in dance, music, fashion etc
16. Rastafari: A person who practices the Rastafarian Religion.
17. Bingi: shortened name for Nyahbingi
18. Evo-revo The processes of evolution and revolution occurring concurrently.
19. Carimod: Modem contemporary technique which is dominated by indigenous Caribbean tradi-
tional movement structure. A Carimod technique is structured movement which emphasizes
identity of the homeland and is codified to represent the historical data which it aims to reflect
as nation body language. This Carimod technique must be internationally understood and iden-
tified. Carimod designates modem contemporary technique dominated by Caribbean source
20. L'Antech: A Jamaican Carimod technique which syncretise Classical Ballet as the base and tra-
ditional dance retentions as the dominant data. L'Antech systematically trains the body to un-
derstand the central Jamaican and the shared aspects of Caribbean dance. L'Antech is a
Carimod training procedure which is entrenched in Jamaican/Caribbean philosophy and folk-
loric data while synthesizing the movement with the training requirements of the permanent
residency of Classical Ballet simultaneously.

21. Groundation: the ontological framework from which we all exist, firmly rooted in the foundation
of the information sourced in the base, earth, the Alpha. Rastafarian Bingi is referred to as a
groundation.as I am going to a Bingi."
22. Evo-revo: a process of evolution and revolution occurring concurrently
23. Jennifer Dunning, New York Times, May 30, 2005, reviewing a performance of company
L'ACADCO-A UNITED CARIBBEAN DANCE FORCE at the Brooklyn Academy of Music -
Dance Africa Brooklyn 2005
24. Dinkie Minie: A creolized Jamaican dance.Janet Collins see Black Women in America An His-
torical Encyclopedia, Volumes I and 2. edited by Darlene Clark Hine, Carlson Publishing Inc.,
New York 1993
25. Gere: A creolised Jamaican dance
26. Jerusalem Schoolroom: is the spiritual space in which one receives spiritual education from the
ancestors and from "the one divine order" as in the case of Kumina King Nzaambie, the elders
and other practitioners.
27. Ina mi own back yaad means at home.
28. Culture contact as illustrated in the Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology as "The
meeting of two cultures, especially where one becomes culturally dominant over the other; the
term was popular in the 1930's as a euphemism for colonial domination." ( 1996 :600)
29. Limbo a ritualistic dance form promoted as a cabaret dance in which the dancers bends the back
extremely low in order to use the inching of toes to master going under a stick. (originally of
30. Healing of a Nation: See Forsythe, Dennis. Rastafari For The Healing of the Nation. Jamaica
:Ziake Publications 1993
31. Livity: a word coined by Rastafarian to denote their way of life focusing also on the living of life
to the fullest.
32. Indige-traditional: Created in your home space using traditional data from the organic sources
which was brought into the space for example Bruckins which used European and African data
to create in Jamaica a new form in Bruckins for a new philosophical purpose
33. Indige-formalized: created in the home space as a technical procedure to training and as a per-
formance language.
34. De body dch talk The body communicates


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Baxter, Ivy. The Arts of an Island: The Development of Culture and of The Folk and Creative Arts in
Jamaica 1494-1962 (Independence), The Scarecrow Press, Inc, 1970
Brathwaite,Edward Kamau. History of the Voice, Beacon Books Ltd, UK 1984
Brathwaite, Edward Kamau, "Kumina The Spirit of African Survival" Jamaica Journal, Jamaica
Volume No. 43,178
Brathwaite, Edward "Negus" in The Arrivants A New World Trilogy Oxford University Press,
United Kingdom 1967,1968,1969,1963
Forsythe, Dennis. Rastafari For The Healing of the Nation. Ziake Publications, Jamaica 1993

James, C.L.R. The West Indian Middle Classes (1961) in IAm Because We Are: Ed by Fred Lee
Hord (Mzee Lasana Okpara) and Jonothan Scott Lee, University of Massachusetts Press,
U.S.A. 1995

Hanna, Judith Lynne. To Dance is Human A Theory of Nonverbal Communication, The University
of Chicago Press, Chicago 1987, 1979
Hanna, Judith Lynne. "Dance" in Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Routledge,
London (1996,1997,1998,2000,2001)
Hall, Stuart. "Encoding and Decoding in Television Discourse", Edited by Simon During in The cul-
tural Studies Reader, Routledge 1993
MockYen, Alma. "Remembering Ivy Baxter: Her life and Legacy" in Caribbean Quarterly Volume
47 #1, 2001
Mbiti John S. Introduction to African Religion Oxford, 2nd edi. Heineman Educational Publishers
McFee, Graham. Understanding Dance, Canada Routledge, London USA 1992
Michael, Payne. Meenakshi Ponnuswami, Jennifer Payne. A Dictionary of Cultural and Critical The-
ory. Blackwell Publishers, USA 1996,1997,1998,1999
Opoku, Kofi Asare. West African Traditional Religion Fep International Private Limited, Singa-
Primus, Pearl. "African Dance" in African Dance edited by Welsh Asante, Kariamu Africa World
Press, U.S.A. 1994,1998
Ryman, Cheryl. "'Jonkonnu' a Neo-African Form Jamaica, Part I &1 I Jamaica Journal Vol.17
Ryman, Cheryl. "The Jamaican Heritage in Dance, Developing a traditional typology" Kingston: Ja-
maica Journal Vol #44, Jamaica: 1984
Sankaralli, Burton "Pan African Discourse and the post-Creole; The Case of Trinidad Yoruba"
Stevens, Franklin. "From Ritual to Ballet from Dance as Life" in The World of Dance in Dialogue
Vol# 1976
Tortella, Rebecca. "Out of many Cultures The People who came The Arrival of the Africans", Ja-
maica Gleaner, February 2004
Turner, Victor. From Ritual to Theatre. The Human Seriousness ofPlay,The John I lopkins Univer-
sity Press, U.S.A.1982
"The Quadrille Dancers of Cayman," Cayman Airways Pirates week 2001:7

Ivy Baxter
Alma Mock-Yen
David Callum

'Dis Slackness Ting': A Dichotomizing Master Narrative in
Jamaican Dancehall


1. "There is as yet no adequate cultural-history of dancehall":
Cultures are maps and 'maps affirm reality.' As with all maps some
spaces of existence are not sufficiently revealed. Still others are cartographically
non-existent (King 1996, p.2). In addition to mapping territory, maps can be
envisaged as signs of relationships and not just the location of a subject. For
cultural studies and post-moder interpretations in particular, mapping speaks to
territory as much as to reality, representation and articulation.
Apart from Garth White's (1984) "Urbanisation of the Folk: The Merger
of the Traditional and the Popular in Jamaican Music" and Norman Stolzoffs
(2000) Wake the Town and Tell the People, scholarly inquiry into Dancehall
culture (strictly), has been sparse in the social sciences. Literary and Cultural
Studies are more evident and include Hope (2004; 2001), Cooper (1993; 1994;
2000a; 2000b; 2004), Chude-Sokei (1996), Skelton (1995; 1998), Gutzmore
(1999), Stewart (2002), and Saunders (2003). Of the available studies of Dance-
hall, engagement of 'the dance' that is, the type and character of events, acts
performed, actors and their space is limited, mostly emanating from varying
discourses on Dancehall music itself- production, lyrics, politicization and deliv-
ery style. This paper argues that much of the existing works on Dancehall create a
particularI kind of view, because the music has been the fulcrum or energizing
force. Approaches to the study of Dancehall have largely gained access through its
music, with 'readings' that exclude the wider life-world embodied in for example
the geography, performance and performers other than the DJ2
Scott (1999, p. 192), asserts that thereee is as yet no adequate cultural-
history of dancehall," and starting from this premise, this paper surveys key
documents written on Dancehall over the last 20 years. It ultimately offers a
broader stage on which lyrics, performer, performance space, and patrons can
interact, giving depth to what has been a stage dominated by Dancehall music.
Being a sort of ecological agenda then, it allows for a mapping of context(s) and
the "very identity that brings the context into focus" (Slack 1996, p. 125) which
this essay represents as 'the dance', or 'sub-cultural dance' as White (1984) puts
it. By entering dancehall through the arena of 'the dance', a new perspective is
allowed articulation3, adding rich material to this process of cultural-history-mak-
ing that Scott advocates. This review, then, engages works on Dancehall while

pushing the frontier of the spaces highlighted especially by White and Stolzoff,
and Cooper and Skelton.
2. Reggae Histories:
Much of the published work on Dancehall (particularly post-1980) to
date appears as part of the Reggae4 continuum. Often, chapters or sub-sections
within histories of Reggae have been dedicated to Dancehall; Dancehall record-
ings, music, musicians and artistes, and to a much lesser extent, its wider practice,
sartorial and other fashioning, economic benefits, choreography and wider per-
formance. Katz's (2003) Solid Foundation, Thompson's (2002) Reggae and Car-
ibbean Music, Chang & Chen's (1998) Reggae Routes, Barrow & Dalton's (1999)
The Rough Guide to Reggae, Salewicz and Boot's (2001) Reggae Explosion, Jahn
& Weber's (1992) Reggae Island, and Foster's (1999) Roots, Rock, Reggae: An
Oral History of Reggae from Ska to Dancehall are some of the works that provide
a compelling history of the musical expression, its sound systems, musicians,
singers and their songs.
Bearing in mind that Dancehall is much more than music, debate about
the actual genesis of Dancehall music is ongoing in musicology and culture
circles. However, Dancehall is largely understood as the reggae incarnation of the
1980s to the present. It might be said though, that all Jamaican popular music since
the Rhythm & Blues of the late 1950's has been directed at the Dancehall. The
manifest difference of the Dancehall musical era is the degree to which live
Dancehall styles influenced what appeared on vinyl developing performing
styles, a new generation of singers, bands with fresh playing styles and reliance on
pre-recorded rhythms, new dance moves, explicit lyrics and sound clashes.
Whereas DJs used to perform live in the dance, technological advancement,
commodification and increased consumption of the form meant that using vinyl
became a way of playing music within the dance space. The DJ migrated to the
studio and the radio as his performance space. His presence in the dance decreased
as that of the selectors of DJ recordings increased. But even this is not the 'full
hundred' (percent), as DJ Lexus would say in his song of that name.
Consistent in all the Reggae histories is that there are general arguments
linking the death of Marley to the rise of post-1980 Dancehall and the influence
of the elected 'Reaganomics-and-Thatcherism-influenced' right-wing Jamaica La-
bour Party to power6 Also, claims are that the 1980's increase in the drug trade
and guns, facilitated by the neo-liberal political policy shift propelled a new sense
for quick wealth and the evolution of an exaggerated (ostentatious, fabulous)
selfhood, where 'ghetto fabulous', the now famous term used by citizens of the
inner city and beyond, began to blossom in a real way. This outlines a shift in
policy and philosophy away from the policies of the Michael Manley regime of the
1970s. Lyrics began to reflect this new sense of self and DJs like Yellow Man and
Shabba Ranks are seen to mirror a roundabout turn away "from the social concerns
of the seventies" which fuelled the ""new" dancehall era with songs replete with

sexual braggadocio, misogyny and violence, pandering to concerns earlier reggae
artists might call "Babylonian"" (Foster 1999, p. 157). This view is recorded by
Salewicz & Boot (2001, p. 172) who explain Dancehall as a distinct musical genre
characterized by "the marriage of digital beats and slackness: that moment and
music in which lyrics about guns, women's body parts and men's sexual prowess
come together," in songs like that of Shabba Ranks' Wicked in bed8 This defini-
tion highlights technology and slackness as two distinctive features, but it is
slackness in particular that has almost become the 'brand name' by which Dance-
hall is signified, even after Cooper's (1993) convincing argument for placing
slackness within a broader discourse on Jamaican popular culture and wider power
relations. To an extent therefore, the Reggae histories, through chapters on post-
1980s Dancehall, have linked political economy and the death of Marley to the rise
of slackness which is arguably a master narrative in Dancehall existing among a
myriad of dichotomizing narratives. Among others, these dichotomizing narra-
tives include hate lyrics versus love songs, sacred versus secular, singing versus
toasting, riding the rhythm versus creating music, English versus Jamaican, roots
reggae versus dancehall, revolutionary versus ragamuffin, mainstream versus mar-
ginal (see also Cooper 2004, p. 74).
3. Slackness as master narrative:
This "Babylonian" brand of liturgy9 by far the largest debate within
Dancehall, and among scholars, social commentators, journalists, and cultural
critics, is not to be understood as simply emerging with a shift in the political
policy of 1980's Jamaica.10' While it is clear that politico-economic factors affect
the social climate of any country, the invocation of capitalism as the main influ-
ence on the development of Dancehall as a musical genre, and the explanation of
slackness as a characteristic feature seems excessively reductionist. Two chal-
lenges are therefore posed in this paper. The first is methodological: it is unclear
what evidence was used to support these claims. Is it from the lyrics? Is it the top
ten hits of the period? And, which period are we looking at? The approximate fifty
year period, or the post-1980 Dancehall divorced from wider contextualization
within the evolution of mento, ska, rocksteady and reggae? Without answers to
these questions, it is difficult to assess these claims.
More importantly, the 1980's shift to a neoliberal regime and capitalist
policies cannot fully explain a performance culture that predates Jamaica's inde-
pendence. Herein lies the second challenge concerning the notion that the regime
change and the death of Marley signalled the rise of slackness as a unique
expression of post-1980's Dancehall. Such statements do not adequately account
for the fact that Marley was not as popular in Jamaica as outside (Katz 2003, p.
299), or the role of the 'Rude Boys' in defining a Dancehall agenda and aesthetic,
and later, technology (the drum machine, electronic keyboard and "sound system
drum" (Brathwaite 1994, p. 9)) on the fast and furious production of rhythms, and
the blurring of public/private boundaries within Dancehall culture. If slackness is

defined as 'sexually explicit and violent lyrics', then how does one explain the
influence of Rude Boys on the music prior to the seventies that contained lyrics
about violent behaviour and sexual encounters even when the Rastafari influence
on Reggae emerged? As Hebdige ([1974], 1997, p. 121-8) says,
"The dreary mechanics of crime and punishment are reproduced
endlessly in tragicomic form on these early records, and the ska
classics, like the music of the burra (sic) which preceded them,
were often simple celebrations of deviant and violent behaviour.
Sound system rivalries, street fights, sexual encounters, boxing
matches, horse races and experiences in prison were immedi-
ately converted into folksong and stamped with the ska beat."
(Hebdige, p. 124)
It seems to me that a historical approach is useful for delineating a
popular music continuum on which periods during which music was varyingly
classified as slackness, roots, and culture, can be observed. A look at songs since
the 1950's illustrates that slackness or more accurately songs about women's
body parts, sex and sexuality existed in mento1l, ska and specifically in the
Censored album of Lloydie and the Lowbites, and music from artistes such as
Prince Buster, among others (Hutton 2002, Bilby 1995, Chang & Chen, 1997, p.
106). DJs such as General Echo, (before Yellow Man) considered a master of slack
talk, released an album entitled 'The Slackest LP' in 1979. Other Echo songs
include 'Bathroom Sex' released in 1980 which was a classic12 Mento singer
Stanley, later of 'Stanley and the Turbines' group, is reputed to have recorded a
fair number of such tunes, including lines like 'gal how yuh pum pum wet an no
rain nah fall' [girl, why is your pubic area wet and there is no rain?]. Additionally,
interviews with elder Dancehall patrons suggest that this slackness was muted
by/in the 1970's discourse on equality, justice and national pride under democratic
socialism, and blossomed again in the 1980's. The 'real dancehall' for some dance
patrons was one with vulgar lyrics being played as one informant recalled of the
1950's. These features were present in the dance prior to the period which is
supposed to have seen a 'slackness revolution' (Salewicz and Boot, 2001).
Technological developments vinyl records, video, radio, cable televi-
sion helped to move all categories of music, particularly 'slackness', into the
public domain. Yet, the lyrics are modified for airplay. If one does not attend the
dance, live within proximity of regular sound system playout venues, or purchase
the cassette recordings or records, there was and still is no public avenue through
which Dancehall music containing adult content can be consumed. It is true that
the music pervades the society, but it is the 'fit-for-airplay' version that is used
outside 'the dance' There are observable boundaries between public and private
appreciation of Dancehall music and practice.

Further, continued reliance on a music-centred or lyrics-centred approach
(lyrical analysis) to justify Dancehall's characterization as slack is just as much an
oversimplification of the culture as is a reliance on a-historical approaches to
account for the so-called rise of Dancehall and its slackness beyond the 1980's.
The lyrics are the only sample used for establishing patterns in the music, of which
slackness is just one within Jamaican DJ music, and therefore the generaliza-
tions that see DJ music as characterized by slackness, with permutations like
misogyny, homophobia and commodification, speak rather to the irreconcilability
of such characterizations as slackness within Western epistemology. Research
shows that 'slackness' has existed since the inception of the music. A more
appropriate explanation lies in problematizing maturation of Jamaica's popular
culture (which by the 1980's had a thirty year history), and the role of the media
and technology in the movement of private symbols to public spaces and increased
consumption. As an example of the way symbols of fabulous wealth have been
reflected by the culture, the 1960's saw similar themes as did the late 1980's and
1990's. These include songs about the gun, the vagina, male /female sexual
prowess and promiscuity, 'matie' fights (women fighting over men), other forms
of violence, and material possessions. For example, the CB200 motorbikes were
the ghetto fabulous automotive choice, replaced by the technologically superior
Prado and F150 Sports Utility Vehicles by the late 1990's.
What is slackness? When did slackness become a category? What
prompted its use in classifying Dancehall when the early music had already
demonstrated similar characteristics? Is it the result of the political/economic
relationship forged by global capitalist regimes and their imprint on Jamaican
psychological and cultural space? In other words, when did 'slackness' become
such a popular commodity, even a tabooed commodity, a status that undeniably
increases its demand?
Slackness gained new popularity in the 1980's after DJ Yellow Man
asked one of his audiences 'what you want, consciousness or slackness?' to
which the crowd responded "slackness!" When Yellow Man was asked about his
introduction of slackness in the Dancehall he replied "dem call it slackness...a
just talk things that they do...use it as drama...story...people liked it." He said
"dem is the one that start it...wid dem smutty mind...dem tek it serious."" The
term is variously defined, hovering around untidy, illicit, display of especially
sexual practices sometimes referred to as 'nastiness' 15 It can mean illicit sex,
public display of sex/sexuality, lewd language such as that containing explicit
reference to sex or sexual innuendo or talk of body parts. There is another aspect
to slackness: it can also refer to exclusionary or degenerative social services,
potential incompetence lauded or critiqued by many a DJ. This is typified by Lady
Saw's (1996) 'What is Slackness?' in which she redirects fingers pointed to her
own performance aesthetic, to the politicians' (non)practice, deplorable roads,
violence, and exploitation by the State.1

Slackness often refers to the display of women's sexuality whether
through lyrics, dance moves and so on. As Cooper highlights, thishs ability to 'do
the wuk' and 'tek di wuk', which separates the men from the boys and the girls
from the women, is the heart of slackness. And it is the sexuality of women, much
moreso than that of men, which is both celebrated and devalued in the culture of
the dancehall" (Cooper 1993, p. 156). There are clear gender and age distinctions
in addition to the play (foreplay, foul play, cultural play), in the propelling force of
the Dancehall style. But, this is just one aspect. The obsession with sex and the
body being a cultural factor is historically, possibly genetically coded, and de-
pending on the climate, dominant or repressed at different times. It manifests in
sex talk in the dance and talk about sex talk outside the dance, and the perception
of Black dance historically has been a major part of the varying perceptions of
slackness within the dance space. The symbiotic relationship between performer
and his/her everyday (the DJ sings what he knows as part of his experience) and
between the dance space and the wider society (the dance exists within the ambit
of scrutiny/commentary given by the society which can amplify its intensity and
influence) are factors to consider in the examination of the term slackness.
A profound example of this is seen in how one Dancehall purveyor
defines slackness. With 'slackness' being such a master narrative within Dance-
hall I asked the dancers, sometimes thought to be purveyors of this slackness
characteristic, to define it. Most saw slackness within the domain of the selector,
in the toasting of some DJs; they didn't consider the dance moves to be slack.
Spandex said "[it] is slack if you mek it slack." Stacey was by far the most
articulate on this. Her opinion takes account of the dancer/patron's garments, lack
of understanding of dance moves in relation to our African heritage, the perception
of Dancehall vis a vis carnival, slackness as a perspective held mostly by those
outside the space and the problem of definition. An important highlight was
Stacey's opinion of her own acts and the wider perception of these as slackness.
She was clear that her acts are performed in what is a private space which is taken
out of this context by the media in particular.
For Stacey, Dancehall's so-called slackness characteristic is not fully
understood. She says "dem nuh really understand still, some girl might nuh have
on no panty, that is slack." Stacey explained that she visited Africa and "waan dem
go back deh go si how di girl dem...gwaan" [wants them to go there to see how the
girls go on]. Further, Stacey compares carnival with Dancehall.
"Look pon carnival. Dem lick out pon Dancehall an dem do
worse than Dancehall... [When me] draw down pants and show
the g-string [is] for teasing man... a just me... [I] Feel like a
different person. A nuh nobody bring mi inna it mi just love it."
Slackness in the dancehall is perceived mostly by those outside the
space. Stacey says it depends on their definition of slackness. She acknowledges
that perceptions are changing with time. Today, tolerance levels have changed and

some of the song lyrics are aired without any censorship as a sign of changes in the
conservative broadcast standards. Of her own acts and dress, Stacey recognizes
that her acts are performed in a private space which is intercepted by the media:
"as long as mi a keep it inna di dancehall it is appropriate. As
long as yuh no tek it outa di dancehall; dem time deh now yuh
know you a violate the young... cau' pickney nuffi come a
dance. And cable, yuh see if you have a child yuh suppose to
supervise yuh child. If dem a watch TV yuh suppose to know
wha' dem a watch and how dem a watch. So if you know seh
certain tings come pon certain station yuh mus mek dem know
seh certain station dem luow it out. So if yuh nuh waan yuh
pickney dem si certain tings don't watch di dancehall...dance-
hall it name. After hours anything gwaan. Me do my ting inna
Dancehall. Cau' when me get up a day time fi go pick up mi
ticket or dem ting deh mi nuh dress like breast and all dem
ting deh... Yuh draw on yuh jeans and yuh t-shirt... Wha
happen a dancehall a big people ting and big people have a
choice fi do anything dem waan do. So a so me see it. Nobody
no suppose fi lick out pon it. And if yuh see a picture tek... an
yu see it inna di paper... di public eye... is not our fault... that
was happening in the dancehall. The media tek it out an some-
time we nuh know... the media tek it out a di dancehall an put it
inna di public eye, so it isn't our fault... Yuh wi tek out five
picture and the media tek out the most slackest one outa di five
picture and put that one inna it just through dem want a story
and the whole attraction fi the paper fi itself. So a di media fault
at the same time a patrol like seh. A inna di dance wi deh...a our
ting an' wi a enjoy wiself, as long as wi nah dweet inna yuh
pickney eye sight an wi nah come outa street wid it, leave wi
To deconstruct further the problems posed in the characterization of
Dancehall by its slackness component vis a vis the 'culture' era of the Rastafari
influenced Reggae, and the implicated role of liberalism/capitalism, one has to
explain this matter in terms of subsuming political economy within Culture.
Production and consumption, be it economic, cultural or philosophical, is itself
part of a larger system of things surrounding symbols, values, cultural codes and
norms that direct behaviour. This is less a culturally deterministic argument than a
statement of the power in culture. While acknowledging Henry's critique (2000,
pp. 139-143) of Wynter's brand of post-structuralism, I would argue that here is
where Wynter's contribution to postcolonial thought and Caribbean philosophy17
becomes relevant. Culture speaks to an original coding "the societal machinery

with which a particular society or group symbolically codes its sense of self"
(Wynter 1977, p. 4), and therefore political economy could be said to emanate
from or within particular cultural systemss. Slackness, like political economy, is
culturally coded and not driven solely by ideological forces. Evidence of this lies
in the way in which slackness is a persistent element in Caribbean culture,
especially traditional forms of Calypso, Mento, Gerreh as examples.
My definition of culture acknowledges that it is a complexly woven way
of life in which psychic, ideological, spatial, historical, economic, spiritual, mythi-
cal, kinaesthetic, and corporeal elements converge. The use of one-dimensional
explanations hinged on political economy privileges the ideological while negat-
ing other dimensions of the cultural system that is the whole. To properly under-
stand the Dancehall space and slackness within that space then, one has to consider
texts other than political economy8 Even more profound is the way these
"knowledge-constitutive" categories slackness for example impact social trans-
formation (Wynter 1977, p. 16), that is how they reshape social being to move
beyond everyday categories and discourse to new ones. For Wynter, the key to this
model of epistemic change "is the degree of errors" that are highlighted in the
sameness/difference-rational/irrational discourse. The "errors" are magnified
based on the degree of the antithesis they evoke. This antithesis Wynter suggests
is the "liminal category of the episteme" (Henry 2000, p. 128). Their potential lies
in the degree to which they challenge the "internal order of the episteme" (Henry
2000, p. 128). By highlighting what is left out of the episteme, it is shown to be a
source of chaos, of misrepresentations, "vulnerability via the necessary misrepre-
sentation of liminal categories... (Henry 2000, p. 129). The space or shadow of
the liminal is the source of displacement. So the slackness / culture rhetoric of
binary opposites highlights its "errors", shadow, and vulnerability.
To break through the misrepresentations within the slackness/culture
debate slackness referring to Dancehall and culture to Reggae there are other
points to consider. The oppositional categories inherent in the culture/slackness
debate, negates representation on the basis of difference or sameness, identity or
non-identity, inclusion or exclusion, truth or untruth, rational or irrational, among
others. These categories get reproduced and reflected in the very identities that
constitute and are constituted by them to continue the cycle of misrepresentation,
ofno-whereness, and ofliminality. Additionally liminal labels such as 'slackness'
or 'culture', or secular versus sacred, arise from the very foundational categories
upon which the West was found. Western Christianity and a Christendom political
economy schema made it clear who was Christian and who was pagan at the same
time as rich versus poor and good versus evil. Within colonialism and capitalism,
lies the liminal category and it is this liminal category with which Dancehall finds
its tensions, its chaos, contradictions, and binary "errors" And it is within these
"errors" that its power to destabilize social categories is found.

My aim is to analyse Dancehall's categories to reveal liminal categories
of the Western project by counterposing them to other kinds of projects of the East
and other spaces in between these. In doing this a new reading of liminality a more
liberatory one is highlighted through Wynter's thought as a starting point. It is not
just chaos, tension and the potential for changing social categories that lies within
Wynter's conception of liminal categories: there is an element of ritual and
stylization of everyday life. It is this power, often articulated through style that is
being highlighted. The categorical shift that is made is one that sees style as the
driving force of redemption and satisfaction, definition and identity within that
liminality. It is the routinization of a socio-historical and existential marker
through which the poor of inner-city ghettos for instance, have signalled their
existence to the world.
Dancehall is also to be understood as a condemnation of these very
categories. Diverse definitions, usages, interpretations and counter-actions are
imposed on the word slackness. One can be dismissed, without explanation at any
time: no definition is vital. In the very persistence of Dancehall's slackness
component then, are the seeds of its de-legitimation. As dancers, DJs, and other
practitioners/patrons/producers display their own reality around God, home, self,
subjectivity and agency, counterposed with the formal or hegemonic order they
demonstrate the disposability of each of these terms, slackness and culture. Slack-
ness and culture as persistent themes are even deposed when necessary as many
performers discredit their applicability. Their legitimacy, however, is constantly
heralded by those (scholars, media personnel and critics) who find gainful em-
ployment from engaging them. As shanty town dwellers doubly negated in the
political and cultural economies of the Western project (Wynter 1977, p. 34), the
creators of Dancehall rewrite the significance attached to self and culture within
their creative process. In Rastafari and its offspring cultures of Reggae and
Dancehall, actors re-read self, cosmos, status, space and symbols, staging "revolu-
tionary...counter-invention[s] of the self' (Wynter 1977, p. 36). Are all these
factors accounted for when Dancehall's identity is limited to binary oppositional
categories? Are the possibilities available through the liminal acknowledged? It is
the process, that stylization of everyday life, that has to be taken into account in
analysing the politics of Black culture in the New World.
In the battle over the definition and empirical validity of Dancehall's
slackness classification, there are other factors that have not been introduced or
problematized as contributing factors to the popularity of slackness in the post-
1980 period. Consider the following:
a. Increased migration and brain drain in the 1960's and 1970's produced a social,
cultural, political, economical and ideological generation gap. With less guid-
ance from the elders in the society, community and family breakdown lead to
a disruption of the customary passing of knowledge from one generation to
the next. Matters of musical production suffered and new modes of produc-

tion emerged. Economic conditions in the 1970s high inflation and scarce
goods created alternatives to high studio and band costs. Chanting on the
comer overtook song melodies, drum machines and electronic drum rhythms
from inexpensive keyboards overtook studio bands, and the reduced studio
time, reduced need for well equipped studios propelled the generation of
quick money from technically-correct19 rhythm tracks that could accommo-
date both bad and good DJs all at the same time. Style and fashion ruled: a
fashioning of self among the progeny alien to the progenitors. The different
way in which the music began to be created as a result of these changes is a
significant factor.
b.There is an intergenerational difference in the definition of Dancehall. Socializa-
tion is a key factor in the appreciation of the music of the 1950s and 1960s
versus the 1980s and 1990s. For one interviewee, Dancehall was subversive
activity defined in the 1970's by Rude Boy-patronised sound systems such as
Tipper Tone and King Tubby's Hi Fi. The aesthetic of the Rudie who is
theorised by White and Hebdige was a significant component: the 'screw
face' (wrinkled, hard or serious look), dark occupational hazard glasses that
identified a working class ethos, black arrow shirt with neck buttoned up, the
red green and gold string around it, shoes of the English brand, Clarks worn
by the more socially mobile, or its imitation by the less affluent, and of course
the S-90, and later the CB-200, motorbikes. Those of this era do not appreci-
ate the music and practice after 1977 in the same way that 'oldies' is passe for
the younger generation. Thus, there are almost frozen values among different
generations in relation to their period of appreciation within Dancehall his-
c.The political upheaval of the 1970s disappointment about democratic social-
ism, violence, joblessness, migration, disillusionment with the ruling classes
by the early 1980s produced widespread fallout of political vision and will.
But this was a complex period. Collective will and mass participation in the
1970s was not eclipsed by individualism and liberalism in the 1980s. As there
was cessation of general expectation / appeal to the middle class for leader-
ship, there was a simultaneous dependence on self for leadership (Meeks
2000, p. 13-14). Thus a complex mix of disillusionment, and 'collective
esteem' as a consequence of the Manley years, spawned collective will
expressed by individual musicians whose voices and products were shaped by
collective studio energies. Lewin (2000, p. 112) suggests that "subtle and
ironic wit" of Mento songs gave way to explicit and attacking Reggae songs
because people gained increased confidence (beyond the self-censure charac-
teristic of Buru and Jonkonnu traditions) to express emotions. She also names
developments in communication media through which images ("events and
opinion") from abroad were more accessible.

d.There is also the ambiguity in relation to Africa that artist Sugar Minnott
expressed as a sentiment that developed around the late 1970s. He pointed to
the cyclical nature of man and the music when he offered that roots and
militant lyrics during the digital era of the 1970s decreased because by the
1980s ordinary people discovered that singing about wanting to go to Africa
was no longer necessary. "[N]ow you know that you can go there I ain't going
to sing that again." He also said: "People just want to hear songs that make
them feel good in the long run...make them feel happy..." (Katz 2003, p.
347). This ultimately supports the fact that music reflects social, cultural and
political trends; in this instance the celebration of internal or local reality. In
the case of the Rastafari-influenced roots music, it has at times been deemed
to be out of touch and its critique of Dancehall on moral/ethical precepts
figures more in a Christian ethic than an African one.
e.lntense attention to slackness occurs in cycles. Each cycle comes with new force
and definition wrapped in the ideological / philosophical agenda of the par-
ticular period.
A multi-disciplinary approach presents a more comprehensive account of
ideological and cyclical shifts in Dancehall. Evidence supports the cyclical move-
ment of themes in music and performance. Each period is different. Each genera-
tion's view is different. And, who can say whether the popular or the political
leads? I am suggesting that Dancehall patrons danced and performed a different
idea of capital and nation in the 1960s, as they did in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
This difference cannot be simplified into a one-dimensional answer.
4. 'Slackness hiding from culture':
Making skilful use of the slackness/culture dichotomy, Cooper (1993)
presents Dancehall as an arena of erotic play through lyrical content analysis. Her
entry into the erotic play of Dancehall is via the culture / slackness antithesis in
deejay lyrics. From the analysis she concludes the following:
"The culture/slackness antithesis that is mediated in the dance-
hall is one manifestation of a fundamental antagonism in Jamai-
can society between up-town and down-town, between high
culture and low, between literacy and oracy. That the lyrics of
DJs should be identified as an appropriate subject for literary
analysis is itself evidence that Culture is in hot pursuit of fleet-
footed Slackness: subjection to analysis is yet another form of
containment. But the equivocations of pursuit and capture are
transacted in the metathesis 'Culture hiding from Slackness'
For marginalised oral discourse, penetrating the rigid boundary
of the hegemonic, scribal canon, requires that it yield to accom-
modate the full Creole/English, oral/scribal range of verbal
creativity in Jamaica. The literariness of DJ oracy thus declares

itself somewhat ambiguously in the loose language of Creole
Slackness." (Cooper 1993, p. 171)
Cooper identifies the place of this DJ art as a site of tensions in the
Jamaican society. The paper identifies themes that are consistent throughout a
sample of 35 'Latest Reggae 1988' collection 20: songs that celebrate DJ'ing,
dance songs that invite participation, songs of social commentary, songs that focus
on sexual/gender relations, and songs that confront the Slackness/Culture dialec-
tic. Cooper re-maps the boundaries of margin and centre in a bid to transcend
them. Her work marks one of the first serious studies of Dancehall. Because her
approach to the study of Dancehall in this context was based on lyrical content
analysis, it has been criticized. Stolzoff, for example, argues that a structuralist
approach to the study of Dancehall in the reliance on lyrics is neither historically
nor empirically grounded, and neglects the complexity of Dancehall cultural
production/consumption/performance (Stolzoff 2000, p. 18). So, to adequately
map the boundaries between margin and centre, a multi-disciplinary approach is
necessary to map the whole (trajectory).
It is clear that while arguing for the appropriate contextualization of
slackness, works such as Cooper's are read as contributions to the reification of the
slackness narrative. This dichotomizing narrative is compounded by the brands of
popular culture invoked. In this re-mapping of power of the DJ, Cooper reads the
DJ's lyrics as derived from:
"an inclusivist Neo-African folk aesthetic a carivalesque
fusion of word, music, and movement around the centre pole,
and on the common ground of the dance floor. The DJ's original
function of 'livelyin up' dance sessions made him a kind of
praise poet for his sound system. His status was enhanced by his
control of lyrics that 'cyaan done' "(Cooper 1993, p. 138)
By her use of the descriptive carnivalesquee' we can interpret a kind of
fleshly pursuit surrounding the dance space, in the bacchanalian sense, which has
within its interpretation the historical view of carnival, even as we are able to see
the celebratory scheme.
5. Popular Culture as Carnivalesque:
Based on Bakhtin's writings on carnival, the notion of popular culture as
carnivalesque has been applied to the understanding of popular culture (see Storey
2001). 1 would like to explore Cooper's use of this term to expose some of the
limitations of its application to Dancehall practice and space. My own interest in
the ancient African organizing principles (or weapons in the sense that Nettle-
ford (1993a) sees them) of song and dance and their manifestation in Jamaican
Dancehall culture has led me to ask certain questions of carnivalesque as implied
by Cooper's use of it. Can carnival explain the multi-dimensionality of DJ art and

its sphere of production? Can Bakhtin explain it? Can Bounti Killa, the Scare Dem
Crew, and other DJ's relate to what Bakhtin conceives of as carnival's liberatory
potential? Can carnivalesquee' explain the Dancehall culture lived by actors
within the space such as Mad Michelle, Hotty Hotty Cherry, the Monster Shock
Crew, and the Spanglers Posse? Does carnivalesquee' serve here to (re)inscribe
fleshly pursuit as part of the way Dancehall is often read and is to be read?
A look at the implications of Cooper's use of the word, the way it
interpolates Bakhtin's analysis of carnival and its application to studies of popular
culture is useful for fleshing out my critique of a carnivalesque analysis, one that I
will show to be closely related to the narrative of slackness and by extension, its
Popular culture as carnivalesque derives from the work of Mikhail Bak-
htin, Russian philosopher and literary critic whose discussion of carnival as an
element of popular history has become textualized. Scholars of culture have
applied the term to contemporary popular culture, and many Bakhtin critics extend
the implications of his arguments to fields or purposes that he never did. Bakhtin's
research led him to an understanding of the carnivals that dominated European
popular culture of the Medieval Ages. In these carnivals there was no division
between performers and spectators and carnival was lived, not participated in. The
laws and restrictions that structured the order of non-carnival, hierarchically
structured life were suspended: terror, reverence and etiquette connected with it
become dormant and all distance between people was superceded by a special
'free and familiar contact among people' This was the essence of living a carni-
valistic life22
Carnival thus worked like a dress rehearsal/theatre for better times,
allowing the latent sides of human nature to reveal and express themselves.
Carnival breaks down barriers, combines the sacred with the profane, the lofty
with the low, the great with the insignificant, the wise with the stupid. Bakhtin's
view of carnival can be summarized in a series of opposition laughter/serious-
ness; body/mind; profane/spiritual; unofficial/official; movement/stasis; abun-
dance/scarcity; intensity/control, and, if you can imagine it, slackness versus
Carnival played an important role in the life of ordinary people who
inhabited a dual existence: the official dominated by the authority of the church,
the feudal system, and work, with the unofficial, characterized by reversal, parody,
song and laughter. Bakhtin's notion of carnival includes the literary genre of
grotesque realism, which centres on the image of the grotesque body. Embodied
life is revealed in its 'realness', no holds barred, in which significant contemporary
interest has emerged.
"'Carnival' is Bakhtin's term for a constellation of rituals, games, sym-
bols, and various carnal excesses which together constitute an alternative 'social

space of freedom, abundance and equality'" (Gardiner 1992, p. 45). Cultural
critics have applied carnivalesque to popular culture John Fiske, for example,
used carnival to explain the pleasures of wrestling on television (Storey 1998, p.
132). Others have critiqued Bakhtin's presentation of carnival as utopian space,
calling it instead, ideological manipulation in the form of officially sanctioned
disruption of the social order, licensed to protect it a safety valve. Still others (J.
Docker; J. Fiske, in Storey 1998) have argued that we cannot write carnival off as
merely a safety valve: rather, it is the endurance of oppositional and disruptive
popular forces that challenge the narrowly conceived forms of reason in the public
sphere and the modernism project.
According to the Webster's Encyclopaedic Unabridged Dictionary
(WEUD 1996), carnival has its root in the Latin (c. 1540-50) carnem (flesh) and
levare (to lift; lighten), that is 'the lifting of the flesh' which seems to be consistent
with manifestations of moral codes based on Greco-Roman ideology/philosophy
of the 'fall of flesh' and of woman later, alongside the rise of reason.
Cooper's use of carnivalesque then is of central importance to my argu-
ment. In her bid to rewrite boundaries of margin and centre, she entrenches binary
opposites. The specificity of the context is her placement of the origin of DJ verbal
art in the "inclusivist neo-African folk aesthetic." Carnivalesque, I can only
assume, is to be taken in its broadest sense, that is, as adjective, conceptual
metaphor, or in a broader Bakhtinian sense. Since it is used to describe the "fusion
of word, music and movement around the centre pole, and on the common ground
of the dance floor," it does not invoke an explicit literary carnival spirit as defined
by Danow (1995)23 and other Bakhtin scholars, but rather a departure from the
confines of the text to the lived or performing body, a whole, pushing the bounda-
ries of the literary manifestations of carnival to its anthropological constant, its
lived quotidian and historical practice. Her use of the concept in this way moves
its applicability and level of invocation from simply the DJ's lyrics to Dancehall
generally: its historical basis, philosophy, space, place, music, lyrics, dance, econ-
omy, style, attitude, embodied meanings, and practice. And further, places it in the
realm of the body; body moves on the common ground of the dance floor.
At a glance, reading of the Dancehall generally in the context of Bak-
htin's notion of popular culture as carnivalesque might seem useful. In his concep-
tion carnival's attention to the functions of the body copulation, birth, growth,
eating, drinking, defecation reflects its 'grotesque realism' as it celebrates human
processes. Its constellation of rituals, games, symbols and various carnal excesses
makes the concept seem applicable to Dancehall culture. For example, an elabora-
tion of possible rituals, games, symbols and (carnal) excesses in Dancehall could
be depicted as shown in Table 1.
Taken generally, one could apply the carnivalesque, as Cooper does in
her delineation of erotic play in Dancehall. However, there are significant differ-
ences to be acknowledged in relation to carnival and Dancehall. What explains

Dancehall's perennial calendar? Why does Dancehall continue beyond strictures
of season, State control, sanction and class boundary? Can body moves and the
Dancehall generally, be reduced to a series of binary opposition, or attention to
functions of the body? The answers to these questions lies in the careful excava-
tion of Dancehall's cultural history, a history that is yet to be adequately ac-

Table 1. Posbble Rituals, Games, Symbds and Excessesin Dancehall
Rituals Games Symbols (Carnal) Excesses
interaction role play music Smoking
arrival border clashing dance drinking
gunfire (salute) sound clash song sex talk
crowning exhibition costuming fire talk / use body
costuming mating masking talk/language
community/group excess chanting body exposure
spectator body attitude
positioning) violence / feuding

The juxtaposition of African (albeit 'neo-African') with carnivalesque in
Cooper's description is not to be missed. Though the WEUD locates carnival in
medieval Europe, it is not to be assumed that carnival held no importance in
African cosmology. However, the difference is that in African cosmology and
spirituality there was and is no fall of the flesh, no basal abyss from which it is to
be redeemed and no separation is made between body/flesh and body/soul24
Carnival then would be a misnomer here, as the lifting of the flesh is daily practice,
written into the fabric of daily traditional (African) life, not limited to the carnival
season or dispensed with at the end of a celebration. Therefore, more consistent
with the ethos of Dancehall is a notion that articulates continuity, a life-giving
totality, never eclipsed by advancing seasons. Broadly, African performance
stands apart from that in the West because it is clearly part of the fabric of life.
Music, for example, as Africans view it, is not a thing of beauty to be admired in
isolation. Rather it exists only as woven into the larger mileau that also combines
games, dance, words, drama, and visual art. The words that mean performance, for
example, whether the western African Kpelle or southern African Basotho, are
applied not only to music-making, dancing and speaking, but also to children's
games and sports (Martin & O'Meara, 1995). Similarly among the Tswana go bina
connotes to sing, dance, venerate, implying the act of honouring by means of the
aesthetic of harmonious collective performance (Comaroff, 1985, p. 111).
Essentially then, carnivalesquee' does not supply the hermeneutic or
symbolisms left unnamed in the confines of the restricted binary categories. The
inherited contradictions being reckoned with, reconciled and/or transcended as

daily practice outside the context of the flesh, escapes the analysis. Moreover, it is
the philosophy and historical trajectory implicit in the "fusion of word, music and
movement around the centre pole, and on the common ground of the dance floor,"
that is more central to a philosophy of Dancehall, the Caribbean, and Africa in the
Caribbean, central to the mapping of Afro-Caribbean ontologies and cosmologies.
Placing Dancehall in a historical context, highlights the philosophy and creative
imagination housed within the trajectory of body moves from before the slave ship
'Limbo' to Dancehall's 'Butterfly', a trajectory that reveals important genealogi-
cal connections.
Folk music and dance are almost always embedded in some larger social
context, whether this be religious, related to productive labour or a weekend dance
where young men and women seek out lovers. The use of song for social commen-
tary, the collective nature of Caribbean music and dance performances with no
distinction between audience and performers in a circular rather than hierarchical
process, and, strong emphasis on (flamboyant) individual style, are some of the
characteristics encouraged. Of course, these characteristics have been present in
the folk and popular traditions since plantation times and are easily, partially or
wholly, readable from the contemporary Dancehall practice.
Indeed, more recent readings of carnival bring local histories to bear on
the insights from carnivals in Trinidad and the cosmopole. Themes emerging from
historical, anthropological as well as cultural studies approaches tease out more
complex understandings of carnival and performance generally. Among other
things, such works speak to classist and nationalist platforms in the Caribbean
carnival transnation (Scher 2003); the way masking, mimicry and misrecognition
describes and problematizes tactics of visibility and invisibility in the Caribbean
and beyond (Aching 2002); and, carnival as the making of an indigenous tradition
and as a means of understanding the cultural and political place of Trinidad in the
Caribbean and its contribution to the English-speaking world (Cowley 1996).
Such a wide and complex appreciation of carnival, much more than an under-
standing based on fleshly pursuit, bears striking resemblance to the place and
importance of Dancehall culture in Jamaica.
In later work, Cooper states that contemporary Dancehall should be
understood as a "global social movement" (Cooper 1998), an angle that remains
unexplored. Works that ignore this reality and continue to reflect the musical as
text miss the empirical dimension that is constantly being shaped or shaping social
realities. However the intellectual contribution of Cultural Studies is its explora-
tion of the constructive debates in the methodological, philosophical and theoreti-
cal frontiers, opening new spaces within sociology, anthropology, and cultural
geography along with more textual/semiotic approaches. This allows for inclusion
and scrutiny of ethnographies and analyses of space, organization and interaction,
and symbols and meanings all at once.

6. A Conclusion:
I have spent time exploring the slackness/culture dialectic, this preoccu-
pation with slackness to the neglect of other Dancehall texts, because it constitutes
a central part of the tense place that Dancehall occupies in Jamaican society and
Diaspora in the wider context. There is an element of this performance practice
then that revolves around tensions of the body and their reconciliation in a
postcolonial ethos. I propose that this tension is a tension over the African body,
female in particular, and its display. More importantly, the tension is also a result
of the play that has evolved in attempts to reconcile some of these tensions, the
play that eases the tension, the eudemonic spirit25 that is infused into every 'heart
bu'n' 26, using humour to bear pains of the everyday. The reconciliation of these
tensions occurs in the way bodily movement, its display and consumption have
surpassed any historical moment in Jamaica culminating in a population that has
come to maturity around national independence and that engineered over half a
century of indigenous popular performance practice.
Issues of sexuality in Dancehall analysed through female performance,
and especially the DJ's lyrics clearly prove the importance of this issue in the
wider society. As Tafari-Ama (2002) suggests, the society needs sexual healing.
The potency and intellectual currency of sexuality in Dancehall is apparent from
the varied dimensions explored in the works reviewed and depend on the writers'
perspective, discipline or agenda. Some write from cultural studies, critical, and
feminist perspectives or combinations of these. To illustrate this moral/ethic/aca-
demic divide, Lake's (1998) perspective on sexuality and women in Dancehall is
telling. She identifies a host of sexist behaviour represented within both Reggae
and its Dancehall progeny. Artistes and their lyrics are outlined and researchers are
virtually reprimanded for condoning such acts within vague symbolic readings of
a practice that ultimately "reif[ies] male supremacy and inferiority of women"
(Lake 1998, p. 128). While Cooper (2004, pp. 13-19) has commented on Lake's
North Atlantic myopia, I will add that Lake's work does not locate the lyrics, and
selective use of lyrics at that, in a broader context. It continues the type of
reductionism that feminist, especially some articulations of Black feminist meth-
odology, tries to depart from (Lake 1998, pp. 128-133). What of other spaces and
streams of consciousnesses within Dancehall culture? Lake's agenda did not give
space to symbolic importance, context, and cultural imperatives deeply rooted in
history and the socio-economic context of particular spatialities, especially con-
tested ones.
As a result of the historical differences in Western and African ap-
proaches to slackness as a category, it has been the site of a large debate within the
study of Dancehall. I conclude that the morphology and depth of this debate
renders it irreconcilable and/or irresolvable in Western epistemology. As the
society of African parentage that sees no contradiction in the sacred and profane
residing together, and British definitions and sanctions on licentious behaviour

continue to clash, the notion that Jamaican society runs on a mind obsessed with
the body, a society in need of healing, becomes apparent. Most important, the
continuation of dichotomizing debates at the academic level does not translate at
the empirical level. This debate is used, misused, destabilized, and de-legitimated
at the people's will.

I. See for example, King's (1996, p.) discussion of Baudrillard's postmodern interpretation of maps.
2. A DJ is a word artist, or Griot in the broader African sense: one who chants/sings/talks on a
rhythm to keep the dance event lively by toasting their fans. See Brewster & Broughton (1999)
for an extended discussion of the history of the DJ, especially the chapter on Jamaican Reggae.
See also Cooper (1993), Stolzoff (2000).
3. For further insight into articulation as theory and method of cultural studies, see Slack (1996, pp.
4. It is of note that the Reggae Times, Vol. I,No. 8, 1996, p.13 advertisement by IRIE FM identi-
fies 18 categories of Reggae. These are International Reggae, Conscious Reggae, Classic Reg-
gae, Hip Hop Reggae, Ska, Reggae, Bluebeat, Mento, Rocksteady, Gospel Reggae, Jazz
Reggae, Reggae Philharmonic, Reggae Rock, Rub-a-dub, Dancehall, Reggae Ballads, Lover's
Rock, Dub Poetry. This excludes forms such as Samba Reggae and others more recently identi-
5. See for example Foster (1999, p.157), Stolzoff (2000, p. 99).
6. This argument has been presented by Gilroy (1987), Skelton (1998) among others.
7. Gilroy (1987) is one of the first to have made reference to this in his book, There Ain't No Black
in the Union Jack, London: Hutchinson, p. 188. See also Katz (2003).
8. See also Barrow and Dalton (2001).
9. The critique of Dancehall by Rastafari (that is, the broader movement) and the wider society, as a
move away from Rastafari and Africa-influenced music towards lewd lyrics, violence, material
concerns, and local inner-city conditions, does not fully account for Dancehall's relationship to
Africa. Arguments that put Rastafari's relationship to the spiritual and to Africa as superseding
that of Dancehall's, are largely unsubstantiated: indeed, an inventory of popular culture in Af-
rica reveals similarities to Dancehall, for example the performance of Kwaito (South Africa)
and Ogopa (Kenya) as contemporary forms. Further, one could argue that Rastafari is a post-
colonial African presentation of Methodism, given that Rastafari uses symbols and sacred texts
of Christianity at the same time as it espouses the "African"
10. Gutzmore (1999) criticizes the excessive focus on slackness as a post-1980 character of Dance-
hall music and calls for a more objectified view of Dancehall's micro-space in which balancing
the profane and sacred is a constant work, not necessarily determined by ideology or econom-
ics without their contextual counterparts audience, the media, temporality, and the broader so-
cial complex.
11. Mento dating from the 1930's, is thought to have been influenced by Trinidad's Calypso tradition.
Topical humour and social commentary were popular themes, but the most popular tunes were
"bawdy, suggestive songs" (Chang & Chen, 1997, pp. 14-15, 106).
12. This song was recently re-released on The Biggest Dancehall Anthems 1979-82: The Birth of
Dancehall, Greensleeves Records Limited, 2002.
13. Cooper presents four major themes in the sample of DJ music she studies in the paper "Slack-
ness Hiding From Culture"
14. In interview with Winford Williams, 'On Stage', CVM TV May 25, 2002.
15. Cassidy and LePage (2002, p. 412) define slack as (1) a slovenly person...untidy, and (2) a
woman of loose morals, while Allsopp (1996, p. 513) offers (1) sloppiness, incompetence, irre-
sponsible behaviour, and (2) vulgarity, indecent behaviour.

16. Lady Saw (1996) asks, "want to know what slackness is? ... cause slackness is when di road
waan fi fix...when govament break dem promise...when politician break dem promise...when
politician issue out gun and let the two party a shot dem one another down."
17. For an insightful analysis of Wynter's contribution to Caribbean philosophy see Henry 2000, pp.
18. Though this point is made by Stolzoff(2000), the text re-inscribes the old explanations consistent
with a focus on the political economy. Only two additional variables are provided to explain
what Stolzoff refers to as a complex matter.
19. The technical correctness of compositions was in some ways highlighted over the quality. Where
musicians trained at the Alpha Boys Academy were the pool from which studios drew exper-
tise, by the 1980s musicians and DJs taken from the street comer excelled in the business. A
more democratic access to the music industry evolves where the raw material is reduced to one
sole item that of the voice.
20. Of note, Cooper's categories here are extended in Stanley Niaah (2004).
21. See Farris Thompson (1983) for a discussion of these organizing principles.
22. For an understanding of the camivalesque I have drawn from Bakhtin (1984); Storey (1998); and
Vice (1997).
23. Danow (1995) defines the carnivalesque as where the camivalistic spirit permeates the literary
world, as in the particular writing within a particular text.
24. See Soyinka-Ajayi's (1998, pp.3 4), for a clear discussion of this contradiction due to the body /
mind split and the resulting 'disembodied' body which Christian moral ethics introduces.
25. I am applying Austin-Broos' (1997) analysis here of Pentecostalism in Jamaica. Looking at moral
inheritance within Jamaican Pentecostalism, she highlights within that cultural system an
"ethic of eudemonism and healing" (p. xiii) coupled with a certain mystery and charm founded
on the 'trick' This trick or play bequeathed from Ashanti cosmology through the trickster God,
or in Jamaica Anancy, is evident in the way aspiration and practice toward holiness and obser-
vance of stringent codes makes space for certain permanent possibility in daily life, that of
'having a good time today' through dancing and singing akin to secular practice or 'ethical irra-
tionalism' The dualism is clear and so too is that liminal in-between space through which play,
trick and even mockery can flourish.
26. This is taken from the Jamaicanism 'use laugh kibba heart bun' [use laughter to reduce heart-


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Challenging Negative Stereotyping and Monolithic
Constructons Through Caribbean Studies


Caribbean Studies provides an excellent opportunity to discuss issues of
structural inequalities and to allow students to situate themselves within a specific
context. Pointedly, a critical lack of awareness around alternative histories and
world geography is one of the first problems to be addressed in the classroom.
From there, educators can move to discuss misperceptions of realities regarding
Caribbean peoples, and to challenge and debunk the myths surrounding the multi-
ple realities and great variety of Caribbean experiences, many of which are also
relative to the struggles of other colonized peoples.
I made a practice of providing an alternative question on the final exam
of an Introduction to the Caribbean course I was teaching at Ryerson University.
It stated: Everyone came into this class with their own preconceptions of the
Caribbean, regardless of their personal background. What were your preconcep-
tions? What has challenged them (if anything)? Many students chose this question,
not, as one might assume, because it was "easy marks" but more, I felt, because
they wished to express how much their preconceptions had indeed been changed
by exposure to alternative material. Feedback from students before and after
taking Caribbean Studies, some of which is presented here, reveals a broadened
perspective, not only in relation to the Caribbean, but in regards to issues of
diversity and inequality.
I currently teach Caribbean Studies in classrooms that are large 80-165
students and the ethnoracial make-up is diverse. Many if not most of the students
are international students, originating from regions such as the Middle East, the
South Asian subcontinent, the Caribbean and East Asia. Because Ryerson was
previously a polytechnic institution, the majority of the students are enrolled in a
professional programme (ie. Engineering, Business, Information Technology) and
are taking Caribbean Studies as a required elective. Therefore many come into the
classroom with no prior knowledge or even interest in the Caribbean. This
contributes to the high level of erroneous preconceptions about the Caribbean and
Caribbean people:
I would say my preconception of the Caribbean is the same as
any other average Canadian. The images mostly taken from
media. Hollywood movies and vacation commercials portraited
the Caribbean as a sunshine, sandy beach, palm trees, exotic

drinks and happy people, luxurious buildings (I only saw ho-
tels)...I left my homeland (Sri Lanka) when I was 5 and it kinda
reminded me of that. Again I did not have a clear conception of
Sri Lanka at all since I was only 5. Like the Caribbean I took
images from movies (from India) and saw Sri Lanka in it.
One's idea about the Caribbean was that it was a paradise with simple
people living there (not too rich, not too poor) all loving each other, tanning pnd
eating unlimited amounts of all kinds of fruits! I also thought that political
problems and fear of the worst exists only in the Arabic world!
Another preconception that I had coming into this course was
that there was only West Indian and Jamaican people in the
My preconceptions, ignorant as they may seem of are the fact
that the majority of the people living in the Caribbean were from
the United States after slavery had ended in the U.S. I believed
from urban folklore that some just wanted to not be in the U.S.
and wanted to be in a tropical country where they could all run
their own little country, or the U.S. got rid of them secretly and
put them onto islands away from the white culture.
My first task with new students is to address some of these preconcep-
tions and to help the students ask why they think this way. From where have they
received information about the Caribbean? Have they themselves visited there on
holiday, or have their friends or family? What are the images they have seen in the
media? Why do they think these are the only images they see? Part of the
challenge for students with these questions is for them to address their subjectivity
and their own context. The questions I want them to be asking are: who am I?
Who am I in relation to others? Who and where am I in time and space?
Where am I? Who am I?
One of the major challenges I have found in the current university
teaching environment is the students' lack of basic geographical and historical
knowledge. I remember my own primary school days and the presence of The
Map (with all its colonialist and imperialist faults) or The Globe (arguably less
offensive) in every classroom. I remember tracing my own family's origins, lines
of migration, and I remember being interested in those regions I knew nothing
about and/or had no personal connection to. Perhaps I was unusual, but nowadays
I have found a poignant lack of knowledge and /or interest by many students
regarding other countries, other cultures. Most will understand where they are
now located (Toronto, Canada) and where their family has come from, but little
else beyond this. Often my lectures include basic geographical references to help
students understand the complexity of the Caribbean in terms of colonial history,

diversity, migration and so on. Students have little to no understanding of basic
concepts such as national versus regional. They often refer to the Caribbean as a
"country" or an "island" I have had more than one student express surprise upon
being told that the Caribbean is an ocean away from Africa, not "part" of Africa or
"just off the coast" of Africa. Many students are also surprised to hear that African
people are not indigenous to the region; that they were in fact brought there as
slaves. Following from this, there is a general lack of knowledge about slavery
and its extent in the Caribbean. I have had students who themselves are descen-
dants of African Caribbean slaves who do not know their own history until they
learn of it in a Caribbean Studies course.
I knew that black people dominate the islands and I thought that
black people were always there like in Africa. I also never
realized that slavery took place in the Caribbean.
Another preconception I had before taking this class was people who
lived in the Caribbean came there by choice. I had no idea how much slavery and
colonization played a role in defining the Caribbean as a nation. It was because of
colonization that the country is the way it is.
I knew that slavery had occurred in the Caribbean but I never
knew the extent or cruelty they experienced.
My preconceptions of the Caribbean were like most who have
come to Canada from a Caribbean society at an early age. I saw
the Caribbean as a place where black people or "non-white" I
should say ruled. There was no Indigenous people to speak of
and the slavery that did occur in the Caribbean was not as long
vulgar or violent as the slavery that occurred in the States.
This lack of knowledge I find disturbing. It is also, I feel, a prime reason
why it is possible for so many myths and misconceptions to continue to persist
regarding Caribbean people. Because many students lack a perception of where
they are in the world, not only spatially and temporally, but also economically and
politically, they ae unable to place themselves in relation to others/ the Other. My
task is to help them to see how their subjectivity is linked to the subjectivity of
Sometimes a student's Caribbean vacation can act as a point of discus-
sion, opening new perceptions. By addressing the tourist experience "yes I've
been to the Caribbean but I had no idea where I was (generic beach/hotel) and I
never left the resort" students can begin to ask "why?" Why was this my only
experience/perception of the Caribbean?
I traveled to the Dominican Republic for a week at a resort. The
visit did absolutely nothing to teach me about the island of
Hispaniola or to change what I thought of the Caribbean. I had

the stereotypical visions of a layed(sic) back life of beautiful
weather, people, music and fun on the beach. It was apparent to
me busing down to the resort, that poverty was prevalent and
that the resort was a fictitious environment, but this did nothing
to deepen my understanding of the region.
Because the majority of students coming out of high school have not been
taught to think critically and/or to see macrocosm/microcosm connections, they
also lack a sense of history. Today, time is very immediate, in the sense hat
technology has literally "sped time up" This appears to have affected students'
abilities to place themselves in a historical context how they (we) got here. Even
events that occurred twenty or fifty years ago are seen to be "ancient history" to
young people for whom information and communication occurs in a millisecond.
Although it is often frustrating to fill in the gaps of a secondary school education
that is showing the effects of gutting due to public funding cuts, there are some
advantages. Students in some ways are a tabula rasa in regards to history, and as an
educator I can insert alternative histories into their narratives more easily. This is
not to say that there is no resistance to alternative histories. One example is
Christopher Columbus. I assert in the beginning of the course that Christopher
Columbus did not "discover" America, the Caribbean or anywhere else, and that it
is impossible to "discover" a place that is already inhabited by human beings.
Regardless of this "alternative" history being presented, there are inevitably stu-
dents who on the final exam will continue to write, in an almost automatic fashion,
that Columbus discovered the Caribbean. To me, this is a sign that the dominant
discourse, so widely disseminated through the media and popular culture, persists
in students' minds the way song lyrics can become "stuck in one's head"
In my teaching, I centre the histories and voices of world majority
peoples. That itself as a concept is disruptive to the dominant narrative, and
Caribbean Studies is a very rich ground to work with due to the diversity of
peoples who came to the region in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons.
Although dominant narratives of history and geography may not be as present in
public school classrooms as they once were, they persist in a myriad of ways,
particularly through media and popular culture. Therefore, students have ideas
about the world that come largely out of popular culture, and that are quite often
erroneous. For example, many students are familiar with the 1970's television
series Roots (although even that is changing as first year students were not yet
born when the series first aired). They are therefore familiar with Hollywood's
American images of African slavery, but, as previously stated, unfamiliar with
similar, or worse conditions of slavery that existed in the Caribbean.
"Hot Hot Hot"
Perhaps the most prevalent preconception is that the Caribbean is a
licentious party place full of writhing rum-soaked black and brown bodies, ganja
smoke and non-stop action. The sexualization of Caribbean men and women is a

particularly prevalent stereotype, one that feeds into the tourist market (Kem-
padoo, 1999). When I ask students why people want to go on holiday to the
Caribbean, the respond "to have a good time" I retort "what is a good time? Spell
that out for me" What emerges is a picture of tourists seeking immediate gratifi-
cation with no consequences alcohol, drugs, sex, and basically irresponsible
behaviour they would never engage in at home. Gradually, students begin to
question why the perception they have of Caribbean people is more likely the
reality of the behavior of the foreign tourist on holiday than the average Caribbean

When I first started this class I admit my preconceptions of the
Caribbean were sun, sex, sand, sea, a non-stop party. Having
never traveled to any Caribbean islands I was using the precon-
ception of the media, and my family and friends who have
traveled there before.
My perception of the local people was that they lacked any sort
of values or standards in which they tried to live up to. I thought
people living in the Caribbean were lazy, very sexually active
and dishonest.
When I came to this class my conceptions of the Caribbean were
that it's a country of people who have a lot of wine. Their way
of living is very "vulgar" The people in the Caribbean are
mostly alcoholics who like to party and don't really value things
such as education and family life.
Well when I entered this class I thought I would learn about
their style, how they party, and what type of people they
are....Before, every time the word Caribbean came up, I would
think party, going out, beach and the girls.
My perception of the Caribbean was that everyone had an easy
life. I assumed that in the Caribbean everyone was nice to one
another. I thought that everyone loved their lifestyle and would
not change it for anything in the world...l had a perception that
people would always have sex. That the women and men had
nice features.

The Caribbean is known to be this free love, have a good time
kind of place and to think that underneath it all the behavior that
is exemplified especially by tourists was so frowned upon.
Unfortunately the stereotype of Caribbean women especially as "easy" is
also prevalent in the university classroom. I have heard Caribbean women students
complain about assumptions made by other non-Caribbean male students that they

are "sluts" I have also had male students unabashedly tell me they are taking the
course because they heard it "has nice (attractive) girls"
I have also, as a Caribbean women professor, been the unwelcome
recipient of sexual harassment by male students, and I have questioned if this
would happen were I not ethnically Caribbean?
By addressing the historical rape and sexual exploitation of Caribbean
women, of multiple ethnoracial backgrounds, I encourage students to think about
how such images have historically benefitted the exploiters. I also encourage
students to think about the ways in which Caribbean people have been historically
portrayed as "bodies", physical objects, and commodities (Bush, 1987), and then
ask them to link these historical realities to today's five-star resort scenario, with
its resultant prostitution, rent-a-dreads, rising AIDS rates, and so on.
Cuba and the "evil dictator"
Perhaps the preconception that becomes transformed the most in the
course is students' preconceptions of Cuba and Fidel Castro. This is one area in
which the influence of media particularly U.S. media is clearly displayed. It is
during the week of lectures and videos on Cuba that students are often confronted
the most by their own misperceptions/misconceptions. Although we are in Can-
ada and Canada has always had a good relationship with Cuba since the Cuban
Revolution, most students have been completely indoctrinated by the CNN ver-
sion of Castro and Cuba.
The one thing that stands out in my mind is the thoughts I had
on Cuba and Fidel Castro. I believed that Castro was an evil
dictator, who killed and tortured his own people. I believed the
people were greatly opposed to him and desperately wanted him
out of power. I quickly learned that my thoughts and opinions
were greatly misguided and uninformed.
I wish Castro was arabic he would have changed everything. He
deserves to be a political god.
For some reason I always saw Fidel Castro as a bad guy all
along, it was until I read the Cuban Revolution article and
lectures and videos on Cuba, I came to realize he wasn't such a
bad guy after all. I realized it was like others judged me (Tamils)
as Tamil Tigers who are/were fighting for liberation in Sri
Lanka and connect it with terrorist at times. They know nothing
about them just as I did not know.
The only real preconception 1 had were that they were politi-
cally "stupid" (especially Cuba) for living in a communist sys-

I thought Cuba was an extremely backward society until this
It was also the first I was learning about Cuba's poverty. I
always thought Cuba was a wealthy society because I would
always hear of tourists going there.
The country I probably learned the most about was Cuba. All I
knew of it was that it was a communist country with an authori-
tarian leader, Fidel Castro. The only news I heard about Cuba
was from American media. I didn't realize how biased and
slanted their media was.
This topic allows students to really address preconceptions from a differ-
ent angle. They are often at a loss to explain why they had such extremely negative
preconceptions of Castro and Cuba, and this allows them the space to deconstruct
their version of reality. Cuba is also a popular vacation spot for many Canadian
students, and this also offers an opportunity for students to speak up about their
own personal experiences of Cuba. It allows for a discussion of the impact of
tourism on a Caribbean country, and how that can change a society's values.
"I thought all Caribbean people were black/Jamaican"
Another common preconception challenged in the course is that all
Caribbean people are of African descent, and/or that Black people are indigenous
to the region. There is also a common perception, in Toronto especially, that all
Black people (and therefore all Caribbean people) come from Jamaica. This is due
in large part to the fact that the majority of Caribbean migrants are indeed
My preconceptions of the Caribbean was that Jamaica was the
only important part of the Caribbean that made the Caribbean,
what the Caribbean is. If you tell someone you are from the
Caribbean they would automatically assume you are from Ja-
maica. You would also see an advertisement on T.V with
Jamaican ads about the Caribbean. And most West Indies res-
taurant has the bright colours of Jamaica.
However, the perception that all Caribbean people are Jamaican has
extended into a perception that all Caribbean people have stereotypical "Jamai-
can" traits, which run the gamut from the dreadlock-wearing, reggae-jamming,
spliff-smoking, laid back "yeah mon" image, to more demonic images of drug-
dealing, gun toting gangbangers. The impact of racist media and policing practices
in Toronto has contributed to a demonized and criminalized images of Jamaicans
that extends to all Black people/all Caribbean people. Being exposed to the
ethnoracial and class diversity of the Caribbean challenges this monolithic precon-
ception. When students learn about the way in which the Caribbean was "con-

structed" by colonial powers, to satisfy an ongoing need and greed for cheap
labour, and that many different kinds of people were imported into the Caribbean
to serve this purpose, they are again confronted by a new reality:
What I must admit is that often when I think of the Caribbean I
think of Black people being tied to that identity. I had never
really accepted the notion of Chinese or Portuguese Caribbeans.
Or even white Caribbeans for that matter.
I thought there were only Black people in the Caribbean.
I never knew that the Caribbean is so multicultural...
Although I have visited the Caribbean many times, I had no idea
that there were large groups of Indigenous, Europeans and Chi-
nese people...As for Chinese I did not know that they were one
of the major groups to be indentured. I thought they came on
their own free will!
The most notable change in my perceptions is how diverse the
peoples of the region are. I assumed the Caribbean was made
up of the descendants of slaves and slave owners. Being of
Azorean ethnicity, I had not realized that my parents' Madeiran
neighbours had migrated to the Caribbean....A colleague of
mine who I assumed to be Indian, I've recently realized is
Before I thought that soca was just "fast reggae" but I was
Simplistic constructions of Caribbean identity, especially those related to
Jamaican stereotypes, are deconstructed. Realizing things are not always what
they appear to be leads to further questioning by students in other areas of their
perceived reality, perhaps even within their own communities.
Students are also challenged to realize that just because there is such great
diversity in the Caribbean does not mean there is a concurring unity:
I thought that the Caribbean had a very peaceful history where
all the races cooperated with each other and got along quite
well. I now know that there were many planned rebel-
lions...strikes, riots, boycotts, murders, oppression, brutality and
revolutions...l now know that here are many problems that stand
in the way of unity.

What I have presented here are some of the challenges in teaching
Caribbean Studies in Canadian classrooms. What the scope of this paper did not
allow me to reveal was what an enriching and enlightening experience Caribbean
Studies can be for students, which was also expressed in students' comments.
Over the years I have received innumerable "thank you"s from students who were
grateful to be exposed to alternative material, histories and realities, and to expand
their scope of the world a little bit. Interestingly, the majority of students I have
taught have not been resistant to having their preconceptions challenged. Some
actually seem relieved. Caribbean Studies can act as a door which opens to so
many new levels of inquiry and concern for students, in a truly beneficial and
inspiring way.

Notes and References

Ford-Smilh, lonor (1995). "Come to Jamaica and Feel Alright: Tourism, Colonial Discourse and
Cultural Resistance. In Ruprecht. A. and Taiana. C. (Eds.) In the Hood: the Re-Ordering of
Latin Anmrica. the Caribbean and Canada. Ottawa: Carlton University Press.

Kcmpadoo, K.(1999) Sun. sex and gold (tourism and sex work in the Caribbean). Lanham, MD:
Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Socio/Cultural and Business Entrepreneurship as the potential
key to our exit from Crime and Violence


Contextualizing of the Problem
The problem of viewing education as a pragmatic alternative to a life of
crime is compounded by the very practical consideration that crime has become
very big business. Narco Trafficking, which presently holds centre stage provides
us with staggering evidence that this is indeed a multimillion (US) dollar industry,
supported in part by National Security Statistics which suggest that one hundred
tons of cocaine (the main event in the narco trafficking business), with a street
value of approximately one hundred and fifty million dollars passes through
Jamaica yearly.1 The magnitude of the narco enterprise problem for inner city
juveniles (suffering from the double jeopardy of attractive recruitment from drug
cartel dons and the constant bombardment of their schools by bullets from rival
gangs fighting over turf), is seen in the unprecedented corruption at all levels as
Parliamentary Personnel on both sides of the House, Judges, personnel at almost
all levels within Jamaica Constabulary have been under the cloud of questionable
ethical and legal practices as these relate to taking bribes from international drug
lords.2 Though marginal occupational conditions may be argued to be responsible
for the lure of the narco bribe in some of these cases mentioned, others are
occupationally well placed and have no such vulnerabilities except that of greed
and the desire to live beyond their means. The point is that if individuals at this end
of the socio economic spectrum are capitulating to the snare of drug money, what
must one say about the juvenile who is being asked to use the option of education
to chart his way to wealth and success in a social context which is inimical to the
mechanics of learning in a country where political and civil leadership have lost
the ground of both moral and practical suasure to convince the youth that educa-
tion is a pragmatic option.
Articulating some of the main issues and pioneering work in finding
The question of the practicality of seeking to succeed educationally is
undermined by a set of factors related to the life style within inner city communi-
ties and particularly those which have been classified as political garrisons:

* The factor of very low academic performance which is commensurate with
very poor GSAT Scores.3

* The factor of low self esteem compensated for with aggression as these chil-
dren seek to find acceptance. This feature has been noted by Pauletta
Chevannes in her Change from within (CFU) programme piloted at four in-
ner city schools. 4

* The perception of being 'already dead' associated with the mortality rate of
inner city youth due to crime and violence. This feature has been noted by
Clinton Hutton in the Craig Town Empowerment project under the auspices
of the University of the West Indies5

* The valorizing of entertainment disc jockeys(DJ's) as they (inner city
youth) see 'cutting a tune' as the quickest way out of the cycle of poverty.

* The valorizing of political dons because (as in the case of DJ's) the overt
preoccupation with Bling6 provides empirical evidence of prosperity.
The upshot of these observations is that the 'Inner City Educational
Brand' has to be repackaged to effectively address the sociocultural realities which
are specifically inner city. Indeed this is necessary if the educational option is to be
a genuinely pragmatic alternative in seeking to escape the downward spiral of
poverty. This repackaging may be traced to 1992 when the Vice Chancellor
Emeritus of the University, Sir Phillip Sherlock set up an ad hoc committee of
university educators to examine the problem of rising levels of crime and violence
in the society and to determine how education could provide solutions.7 Four
schools were then chosen to pilot this project: St Peter Claver, Charlie Smith High,
Treadlight and Friendship Primary School.8 The approach experimented with by
these educators was based upon the use of Cultural Idioms to which specific
students were acquainted as the point of beginning in the learning exercise. This
Cultural idiomatic contact point was then used as a core around which to teach
more conventional subject areas. This approach of course syncrgizes with what
has been generally described as a Liberal Approach to the educational curriculum
piloted by Ivan Illich and John Dewey. Music, the relevant idiom to the students at
St Peter Claver was used under the guidance of the programme coordinator
Pauletta Chevannes and the principal of St Peter Claver, Margaret Brisset-Bolt to
enhance the learning experience. There was a multiplier effect in innovation as
teachers found various ways to use the medium of music to teach in areas of Social
Studies, Science, and Mathematics. This innovativeness resulted in a dramatic
increase in Common Entrance Examination (CEE) passes, from one in 1995 to
eight in 1996 to fifteen the following year0 The seven methodologies by which
this programme named Change From Within CFW worked were: leadership
training, working on the positives, developing new pedagogies, mentoring, having
circles of friends, involving parents and the wider community and involving
students.II Variations of the programme were executed in communities such as
Craig Town where emphases were given to debating as a means of development of
critical thinking and learning to articulate differences of opinion and the study of

key African and Caribbean figures in bringing about Black Liberation.12 Mean-
while comments from staff themselves bear testimony of the changes noted in
students' interaction:
At St Peter Claver senior teacher Trevor Dixon noted: "there has been an
improvement in students, they are kinder, gentler and they can now solve their
problems without fuss. Standards have improved, grades are better and they even
do their own research and are alert."13
At Vauxhall High School where the emphasis was also on music and
instrumental studies Principal Anela Chaplin noted: "that children who played
instruments were less aggressive."
Similar transformations have been noted at Charlie Smith High where the
emphasis has been around the sport of football. In regard to learning new pedago-
gies, Mrs. Chevannes noted that: most of the schools had experimented with
innovative and unconventional methods of teaching in order to gain and hold the
interests of the students which included:
Journal writing which allowed students quiet time to reflect.
Principal's hour which allowed students to engage in issues about the
governance of the school.
Club participation as a means of self expression and personal develop-

Responding to gender specific needs such as using football to teach
Mathematics. 15
Though these marked changes have been noted in the pioneering work of
CFW which has since been amalgamated into the Government's Safe Schools
Programme, there has recently been evidence of significant regression as reports
have resurfaced about the halting of the programme in Craig Town which has been
inundated by violence due to turf warfare between criminal gangs. The same effect
has been noted at Charlie Smith as the sense of malaise has resurfaced among
students who are being inundated by gun violence. Indeed it would appear that
narco-terrorism has triggered the onset of a new dispensation of gun violence and
the prognosis is not good as the economic competitiveness of Caribbean States are
being significantly compromised due to:

* The reducing of protective trade barriers as evident recently in the World
Trade Organization's (WTO) decision in regard to Caribbean Banana and
Sugar resulting in the impending threat of death of both industries in these
states due to their inability to compete successfully.

* The removing of many of our Free Zone operations to Mexico where they
are able to cash in on much cheaper labour than in the Caribbean.

Developmental Academics predict that the economic vacuum triggered by
these two factors will most probably be filled by the International Drug Car-
tels with more economically vulnerable states like Jamaica and Haiti being
ripe for the picking.
The Solution a delicate mix of social and business entrepreneurship.
The litany of problems surrounding education in Jamaica such as:the
malaise of students in inner city communities,the allegedly dismal performance by
institutions (some with illustrious pasts of academic excellence), the exponentially
increasing concern about male underperformance (which is a resonant motif in all
of the afore- mentioned factors) cannot be taken in isolation neither can the finding
of relevant solutions. Innovative ideas associated with social re-engineering of
our human capital (in our most vulnerable communities) to optimize their achieve-
ment potential and those related to the charting the path to our economic prosper-
ity have yet to escape the collateral damage associated with political tribalism. The
coercion which forces all its citizens to behave as a monolith whether it is in
protecting their gunmen, protesting against the Jamaica Constabulary's presence
or in celebrating the rewards that the community's enforcer produces and distrib-
utes as spoils from 'labour' is really a throw back to engarrisoning programmes
which politicians developed to ensure loyalty and commitment of every citizen as
early as the pre- independence period of our history and having its most vivid
expression in the Seaga/Manley era of the 1970's and 1980's. The all encompass-
ing effect of garrisons on the psyche of its victim is akin to chattel slavery. The
symptoms of the engarrisoned community continue to be evident in the way these
communities insulate themselves against the police and other enforcers.The harsh
realities of limited academic opportunities and the promise of abbreviated life
spans have narrowed the choice of heroes to political and entertainment cronies.

Indeed Political Leadership in Jamaica has not had the integrity to dispense with
the crony politics in deference to the greater good that could be acheived through
sustainable development, even though they are definitely aware of the significant
threat of narco-terrorism to the Post Cold War World. Ironically, the second
generation of these Cronisteins (Crony monster offspring of the political dons of
the 70's and 80's) have now with their new found narco dollar independence,
forced their creators the political leaders to be asking Jamaican Citizens to
work collaboratively to expunge this disease. The work of CFW and the Govern-
ment's Safe School Programme must be seen as an exercise of continued tribal
deconstruction as inner city youth are challenged to look beyond the enclaves of
political party leaders and indeed beyond those of DJ's or cartel dons to define
themselves and indeed their destiny.

The Institute of Cultural Studies (as part of the Faculty of Education and
Humanities at the UWI) working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education