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Notes de lecture

Markus Coester & Wolfgang Bender (eds.), A Reader in African-Jamaican Music, Dance and Religion

Sabine Sörgel
p. 202-203
Bibliographical reference

Markus Coester & Wolfgang Bender, A Reader in African-Jamaican Music, Dance and Religion, Kingston, Ian Randle, 2015

Index terms

Mots clés :

danse, religion

Keywords :

dance, religion

Geographical index :

Jamaïque / Jamaica
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Full text

1Postcolonial critiques of knowledge formation and discourse are challenged by the fact that they are often formulated by way of recourse to Western epistemological models. Marcus Coester and Wolfgang Bender’s studies on African Jamaican popular culture present timely alternatives to avoid this pitfall. Their Reader in African-Jamaican Music, Dance and Religion (2015) brings together seminal articles by Jamaican scholars and anthropologists of the early to late twentieth century who examined their culture and society surrounding efforts towards cultural emancipation and after independence. Presenting the historical evidence gathered by Jamaicans surrounding their struggle for independence and cultural self-definition, Coester and Bender make a clear case for the need to examine Caribbean popular cultures on their own terms rather than borrowed concepts from either Europeanist and/or Africanist lenses.

2Coester and Bender’s anthology also attempts to rectify some of the reductionist readings of Jamaican popular or “bass” culture as simply appropriating, resisting and/or blending diverse cultural elements. Rather, they suggest that one must consider these cultural expressions as unique indigenous performance cultures that have emerged from the experience of slavery and colonialism in Jamaica. Hence, the editors define Jamaican and Caribbean popular culture via the term “accommodation.” As they assert in the introduction to the anthology:

As such, accommodation implies that a tradition or cultural practice strives to integrate elements from “outside” (for a communicative purpose) and that they are easily integrated by the practitioners, or rather that the practitioners are able to accommodate them, which leads to and shapes cultural change in a particular way, instead of either assimilating or rejecting these elements, without this effect (xix).

  • 1 See my review of his book Sonic Bodies, in this collection of texts.

3Whilst many of the articles assembled here are well known to scholars in the field and some appear dated, they nonetheless offer an archive for future scholarship to assess Jamaican cultural development and practice which is now widely accessible for the first time. As such, the contributions by seminal Jamaican scholars such as Ryman, Wynter, Bettelheim, Schuler, Seaga, Chevannes, Tanna, Bilby and Lewin constitute an oral history project in itself that is the consequence of discourses surrounding cultural memory as much as the evidence of cultural practice still performed by Jamaicans today. That this is of value to the study and historical documentation of Jamaican cultural practice goes unquestioned and provides the evidence for further theorization as presented by Henriques’s book. If Jamaican “vibratory power” as such is indeed non-representational, as Sonic Bodies suggests,1 its performance event and socio-cultural clout are not, and by reading Henriques’s theoretical investigation alongside the historical documentation provided by Coester and Bender’s anthology, this is clearly evidenced.

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1 See my review of his book Sonic Bodies, in this collection of texts.

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Bibliographical reference

Sabine Sörgel, « Markus Coester & Wolfgang Bender (eds.), A Reader in African-Jamaican Music, Dance and Religion », Volume !, 13 : 2 | 2017, 202-203.

Electronic reference

Sabine Sörgel, « Markus Coester & Wolfgang Bender (eds.), A Reader in African-Jamaican Music, Dance and Religion », Volume ! [Online], 13 : 2 | 2017, Online since 21 April 2017, connection on 24 February 2018. URL :

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About the author

Sabine Sörgel

Sabine Sörgel a obtenu sa thèse de doctorat en Performance and Media Studies à l’université Gutenberg de Mainz, où elle a enseigné dans le département de théâtre et de danse jusqu’en 2008. De 2008 à 2012, elle fut Lecturer en Drama, Theatre and Performance à l’université Aberystwyth et research fellow au centre de recherces Interweaving Performance Cultures de Berlin en 2011. Depuis 2013, elle est senior lecturer en danse et théâtre à l’université de Surrey. Parmi ses publications, on compte Dancing Postcolonialism. The National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica (Transcript Verlag, 2007), le manuel récent Dance and the Body in Western Theatre. 1948 to the Present (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) ainsi que de nombreux articles et chapitres d’ouvrages sur le théâtre et la danse contemporains, la corporalité transculturelle, la mondialisation et la transnationalité.

By this author

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L'auteur & les Éd. Mélanie Seteun

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