Marjorie Narcisse and Shelly-Ann Richmond

University of New Hampshire, Manchester

Economics & International Affairs (Narcisse) | Sociology (Richmond)


Mentor: Dr. Justus Ogembo, Assistant Professor of Anthropology & Education and Dr. Nina Glick Schiller, Associate Professor of Anthropology

The Role of Music in Contemporary Caribbean Societies as a Means of Resistance to Political and Social Injustices: a Case Study of Jamaica

From the late 18th century when rebellions became the norm and were viewed as the primary way to bring attention to the British government about the plight of recently freed slaves; Jamaicans have used music to express their feelings and deal with current issues that are imperative to their way of life. The purpose of this project is to explore the ways in which those who live in Jamaica have continued to use popular music as a means of communication; it is embedded in their history and continues to be part of their culture.

For the purpose of our research we defined resistance as the use of our lyrics or musical styles and rhythms within music which reject contemporary or popular trends on a social and political level. We considered resistance in any use of music that challenges the status quo in a continual basis by exposing social inequalities. This includes resisting exploitation, corruption and domination as it relates to politics, socio-economics, class/color and gender. In this research we wanted to see how music has influenced and continues to influence the ongoing battle-to-end colonial ideologies and the existing conditions of inequality, injustice, and exploitation that many people living in the Caribbean face. By connecting the two terms of music and resistance together it is easier to understand their coexistence and importance in the lives and cultures in Jamaica.

By traveling to Jamaica we participated and observed the everyday roles that music plays in this society. Through the use of questionnaires and interviews we explored the significant impact that music has on the development of a country and the evolution of a culture. It is a way for us to show the many different ways in which Jamaicans embrace their music beyond the commercialized images that are offered to the masses.

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