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PhD in American Studies, Faculty of Arts
'Ghetto Youth A Bust': The Jamaican Dancehall Movement in New York City
My thesis is the first comprehensive study of the prominent Dancehall movement within New York's Jamaican immigrant communities in the final two decades of the twentieth century. Consistently maligned for a purported lack of artistic merit coupled with lyrical content focusing on matters of violence, sexism, and homophobia (issues that must still be addressed), my thesis seeks to explore how and why Dancehall became the music of choice for working-class Jamaicans at home and abroad in New York City. The movement marks a site of cultural interchange between Jamaican and African American communities in New York. Previous scholarship suggests a perceived oppositionality between the two black communities, largely propagated by middle- and upper-class immigrant perspectives, but Dancehall illustrates increasing intersections between working-class members of both communities. Music from artists such as Sluggy Ranks and Super Cat suggest the formation of a working-class Jamaican identity that is contingent on race, not nationality, as previous scholars have asserted. This marks the importance of class when considering race, which is an integral aspect of my research.
Race and class in the inner city; black musical culture; immigrant studies.
Professor Zoe Trodd and Dr Nick Heffernan
- Race and Rights Cluster at the University of Nottingham, since September 2014