The newly released book Global Reggae, edited by Carolyn Cooper and published by the University of the West Indies Press, is now available to satisfy the unending curiosity of reggae fans around the world.
The plenary lectures from the 'Global Reggae' conference held in 2008 at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, Jamaica, eloquently exemplify the breadth and depth of current scholarship on Jamaican popular music. Radiating from the Jamaican centre, these illuminating essays highlight the "glocalization" of reggae - its global dispersal and adaptation in diverse local contexts of consumption and transformation.
The languages of Jamaican popular music, both literal and metaphorical, are first imitated in pursuit of an undeniable originality. Over time, as the music is indigenised, the Jamaican model loses its authority to varying degrees. The revolutionary ethos of reggae music is translated into local languages that articulate the particular politics of new cultural contexts.
Echoes of the Jamaican source gradually fade. But new hybrid sounds return to their Jamaican origins, engendering polyvocal, cross-cultural dialogue.
The contributors to this definitive volume lucidly articulate a cultural politics that acknowledges the far-reaching creativity of small-islanders with ancestral memories of continents of origin.
The globalisation of reggae music and its 'wild child' dancehall is, indeed, an affirmation of the unquantifiable potential of the Jamaican people to reclaim identities and establish ties of affiliation that are not circumscribed by the Caribbean Sea: to the world!
The book launch for Global Reggae will take place today at 6 p.m. at PULS8, 38A Trafalgar Road.
The line-up of artistes for the evening's programme will include Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus, Jah9, Protoje, No-Maddz, and Cali P. All are invited and admission is free.
Carolyn Cooper is Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona. In 1992, she initiated the establishment of the university's International Reggae Studies Centre. Her publications include Sound Clash: Jamaican Dancehall Culture at Large (2004) and Noises in the Blood: Orality, Gender and the "Vulgar" Body of Jamaican Popular Culture (1993).