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I love myself when I am dancing and carrying on: refiguring the agency of black women's creative expression in Jamaican Dancehall culture

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This paper develops an account of black women's contribution to the development and continuity of Jamaican Dancehall culture. It focuses on what lies beyond a view dominated by oppression or a male viewpoint. I explore how lower class women bring creative expressions to bear on their experience of pain, negation and oppression, by insisting on the priority of their body's erotic agency. Through a combination of place, corporeal practices and imaginative display of the body, I suggest that existential pain is eroticized, re-membered and re-figured as joy. Rather than studying the lyrical content of deejays or the activities of men (which has dominated the debate on the culture) I attempt to write black women into the history of Dancehall culture and at the same time show how as active agents they pose a radical challenge to the puritanical bourgeois logic and accepted ideas of femininity pervasive in Jamaican society.

Keywords: bourgeois logic; corporeal; creative agency; dance; erotics of pain; everyday life; uptownies

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Warwick.

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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