“A Modern Slave Song:” Reggae Music and the Memory of Slavery - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Book Sections Year : 2019

“A Modern Slave Song:” Reggae Music and the Memory of Slavery


From early ska tunes to modern-day dancehall sounds, Jamaican popular music has been a privileged site for the re/creation and transmission of a communal memory of slavery, within Jamaican society itself but also in the broader context of the African and Afro-Caribbean diasporas. The lyrics of reggae songs constitute a vast textual repertoire where a predominantly oral discourse on slavery is produced and circulated, mostly outside institutional circles. In such texts, slavery serves as a memorial matrix which fosters a sense of identity, community and resistance for Afro-Caribbean people around the world. This chapter examines a corpus of 250 song lyrics dedicated to the memory of slavery spanning over the last 60 years. Adopting a cultural studies approach, the chapter provides textual analysis in both quantitative and qualitative terms and situates this analysis within a broader discussion of the specific modes of production, circulation and reception of discursive artefacts in Jamaican popular culture. Reggae music will thus be shown to be an effective medium for the propagation of an unofficial, alternative discourse on slavery and its memory that is rarely discussed in the media or even academic literature but that reaches ever wider audiences on a global scale.
Not file

Dates and versions

hal-02433492 , version 1 (09-01-2020)


  • HAL Id : hal-02433492 , version 1


David Bousquet. “A Modern Slave Song:” Reggae Music and the Memory of Slavery. Traces and Memories of Slavery in the Atlantic World, Routledge, pp.281-294, 2019, 9780367321277. ⟨hal-02433492⟩


776 View
0 Download


Gmail Facebook Twitter LinkedIn More