Guide Masking and Power: Carnival and Popular Culture in the Caribbean (Cultural Studies of the Americas)

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Contents:
  1. Up Close at Trinidad’s Carnival
  2. Why Nicki Minaj’s Feather Headdress Is Not Cultural Appropriation: A History of Caribbean Carnival
  3. Article Metrics
  4. Barranquilla Carnival: Who Lives it, is Who Enjoys it! – National Geographic Society Newsroom

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Up Close at Trinidad’s Carnival

Advertisement Hide. Front Matter Pages i-xii. Pages Front Matter Pages Transculturation, Syncretism, and Hybridity.

Black style politics

Beyond Modernity. In places where there were heavy concentrations of enslaved Africans from a single ethnic or national group, the music and dances of these peoples would come to dominate the musical and dancing practices of their community. Even in such settings, however, Africans from other ethnic and national groups made their contributions to the developing new cultural form. More typically, Africans from a number of different ethnicities and nationalities created something new out of the cultural and material resources found in their new environment.

They built their religious and secular rituals, festivals, and social gatherings on the foundations of song, dances, and rhythms they invented to cope with and express their New World realities. Carnival and adjunkaroo festivals trace their musical and dancing roots to these neo-African traditions.

Why Nicki Minaj’s Feather Headdress Is Not Cultural Appropriation: A History of Caribbean Carnival

Indeed, most contemporary musical forms and vernacular dances of the Caribbean and the South trace their roots to the musical and dance heritages of their enslaved African ancestors. In the United States, the dominant forms of contemporary American music and vernacular dance are also derived from America's African-based slave legacy.

This has occurred despite the fact that drums, the rhythmic foundation of African music and dance, were outlawed in many slave communities in the United States.


  1. NEH Grant Proposal (Awarded): Bodies on the Move: Panorama of Caribbean Carnivals-Project Narrative;
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  3. BiblioVault - Books about Customs & Traditions.

When slave "masters" and overseers in the United States discovered that drums could be used as a secret means of communication, they were banned. But African rhythmic sensibility would not die.

Article Metrics

Nor could it be suppressed. In the place of drums, enslaved Africans in the United States substituted hand clapping, "pattin' juba," and tapping the feet in polyrhythmic cadences to reproduce the complex rhythms of African drumming. Vernacular dances such as jigs, shuffles, breakdowns, shale-downs, and backsteps, as well as the strut, the ring shout, and other religious expressions, were danced to the accompaniment of these drum-less rhythms and to the fiddle, the banjo, bows, gourds, bells, and other hand or feet instruments—all New World African inventions by enslaved Africans.

During the slavery era, enslaved Africans became the musicians of choice for white and black celebrations and festivities because they were recognized by whites and blacks as the best musicians in their locales. Ironically, the most frequently reported occupation of fugitive slaves in New York during the colonial era was "musician," by a very wide margin.


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  • Two indigenous African-American musical forms—the spiritual and the blues—were created by enslaved Africans during the slavery era. African-American religious and secular songs trace their roots to the spirituals and the blues, respectively. Enslaved African craftsmen and visual artists laid the foundations of the African-American visual arts tradition during slavery as well. Slave craftsmen made furniture and other utilitarian objects, some of which carried unique New World African visual arts expressions.

    Carvers and stone sculptors have left utilitarian objects and artworks of surprising aesthetic quality. Quiltmakers fashioned objects of beauty from scraps of cloth, and stone milliners and tailors were among the nation's pioneer fashion designers. Enslaved Africans left their cultural stamp on other aspects of American culture.

    Barranquilla Carnival: Who Lives it, is Who Enjoys it! – National Geographic Society Newsroom

    Southern American speech patterns, for instance, are heavily influenced by the language patterns invented by enslaved Africans. Southern cuisine and "soul food" are nearly synonymous. Both are African-American cuisines from the slavery era.

    Sermons, oratory, and other forms of oral literature in the African-American vernacular idiom, including contemporary rap, trace their roots to genres developed by enslaved Africans during slavery. By Howard Dodson.

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