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Caribbean protest music

Daniel Tannehill Neely


In the West Indies, music plays an important social role. Symbolically, it is a part of how people construct reality and helps give life to both the dominant and oppositional ideological aspects of Caribbean society and culture. As a means for protest and contestation, music plays a particular role by giving voice to the oppressed and helping to develop ideological and social solidarity among those with common values and kindred social identities. One of music's functions is to help develop cohesion by appealing to and reinforcing values and identities through ritualized performance. This sometimes occurs in state-approved contexts that balance bureaucratic organization with informal exuberance. Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival, for example, is an important seasonal reference point that mobilizes the public and momentarily overturns the social order by creating a context within which people can express ideas about cultural, political, and economic inequality. Although Trinidad and Tobago's is the largest and best known Carnival in the West Indies, Carnival celebrations take place elsewhere in the region, including Antigua, Aruba, the Bahamas (Caribbean Muzik Festival), Barbados (Crop Over), Carriacou, and Jamaica. Each of these uses local music to rally opinion in different ways. Carnival events are also held in diasporic West Indian communities in Toronto, London, and Brooklyn, where ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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