Re: Jamaican books/Books on Jamaica and Jamaicans
Donna P. Hope: Inna di Dancehall: Popular Culture and the Politics of Identity in Jamaica
Donna P. Hope Inna di Dancehall: Popular Culture and the Politics of Identity in Jamaica Kingston: University of the West Indies Press 2006, xxi 168 pp.
Dancehall culture in contemporary Jamaican society is the subject of an ongoing debate in the public sphere. Its dominant themes (race, gender, sexuality, and violence) form the basis of a discourse that pits traditional colonial norms and mores against what is often decried as the vulgarity of this popular urban cultural form. Dancehall is routinely belittled and demonized by mainstream Jamaican society, yet, as Donna P. Hope argues, this manifestation of what is time and again deemed "low culture" is in fact a mirror of the society's traditional hegemonic patriarchy and its historic practice of racialization. Hope, herself an insider and a self-described "hardcore dancehall fan" (x), traces these potent themes of dancehall identity and argues that dancehall culture actively creates a space for its "affectors" (the creators of dancehall culture) and "affectees" (its consumers) to take control of their own representation, contest conventional relationships of power, and exercise some level of cultural, economic, social, and even political autonomy.
Hope uses the metaphor of the "dis/place" as a three-part concept to describe: the spatial "this place" in which dancehall culture operates; the disrespectful way dancehall agents are treated by society (the "dissed" place); and the fact that dancehall culture is "displaced" to the fringes of society. In this way, she sets up an analytical foundation from which to examine how dancehall's marginalized producers and consumers interact with and react to the larger society. The evolution of dancehall into a hyper-ritualized self-aggrandizing sexual and violent form is contextualized by situating it in Jamaica's own political, economic, and social transformations of the 1980s, as well as the colonial legacy of systemic classism and racism. Hope consistently views the negotiation of identity in the dancehall in relation to society at large: skin bleaching or "browning" reflects European beauty standards and racial hierarchy; homophobic lyrics imitate gendered identities of masculinity and femininity in Jamaican society; and the gun-referencing lyrics and extreme masculinity of deejays like "Ninjaman" parody and glamorize the "don/shotta" role of ghetto gangsters.
Focusing on popular artists (e.g., Yellowman, Lady Saw, Ninjaman, Shabba Ranks, Macka Diamond, Ce'cile) and contributors to/consumers of dancehall culture (e.g., "don" [ghetto lord], "shotta" [shooter], "big ooman" [big woman], "Miss Vogue"), Hope describes the network of power relationships operating in the dancehall, arguing that each actor has the ability to negotiate and control their own representation of gender, race, sexuality, and violence. In addition, she shows how each actor engages with the symbols and narratives of the dancehall on multifaceted levels in the contestation for public space. Women, for instance, are shown to use their sexuality or economic independence to control their own upward mobility and at the same time destabilize masculine identity. However, they are still forced to negotiate these identities within the overtly masculine dancehall culture.
Itse olen tollasta lueskellut, hankin sen Sovereign Centrerin jostain kirjapuodista. Ihan mielenkiintosta kamaa.