Sun | Mar 24, 2019

UWI to launch Global Reggae Archive at Reggae Confab

Published:Wednesday | February 13, 2019 | 12:24 AM

As Jamaica celebrates Reggae Month, and The University of the West Indies (UWI) marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Reggae Studies Unit, the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) will host the sixth Biennial Global Reggae Conference, February 13-16, 2019.

Under the theme ‘Reggae Innovation and Sound System Culture II’, this year’s staging is in partnership with Birmingham City University, United Kingdom, which hosted the first conference in April 2018. Renowned anthropologist and ethnomusicologist Dr Kenneth Bilby, alongside Dr Dennis Howard, will engage in a plenary conversation on Jamaica’s ultramodern sound culture and ancestral livity. This year’s staging inside the UNESCO Creative City of Music – Kingston, promises to be a landmark event in reggae, culture and sound system research. The conference will discuss and engage with reggae innovation, particularly the theoretical and practical expressions of how innovation manifests through music and popular culture.

As a result of the partnership between The UWI and Birmingham City University, developed over the past 18 months, plans are advanced for the two-year phased development of a Global Reggae Archive, which will be launched at the Saturday, February 16 closing of the conference. Through this initiative, The UWI will partner with key stakeholders in the mobilisation of a global network of archives and resources, including for exhibition materials in the fulfilment of the goals established.

One of the principal drivers is to further the documentation and preservation of Jamaica’s cultural assets in recognition of the absence of a cutting-edge Jamaican music archive in Jamaica, especially at a time when reggae has been inscribed on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage for Humanity.

A signature event of the ICS, the 22nd Annual Bob Marley Lecture, will take place on February 15 at 7 p.m. The featured speaker is Dr Les Johnson, Research Fellow at Birmingham City University and Visiting Scholar at The UWI, Mona campus. He will speak on ‘Reggae Urbanism: Remixing Design, Sonic Culture, and Archiving the Reggae Continuum as Planetary Discourse’.

Dr Les Johnson is an alumnus of the Royal College of Art, London, and currently serves as lead design and management consultant for Equator International.