The Carter G. Woodson Institute, U.Va.

The Carter G. Woodson Institute

for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia


My dissertation Being Maroon: "Music, Memory and Power in Articulations and Representations of Jamaican Maroonage" examines the use of music as an implement of power and a mode of representation. Drawing from extensive field research with the Leeward and Windward Jamaican Maroon communities, I argue that music and cultural icons are used to articulate and contest various conceptions of Jamaican Maroonage. Maroons use their cultural authority to: authenticate performance practices, set the parameters for what constitutes acceptable cultural representation, passively and actively express approval of or dissatisfaction with community leadership, grant or deny access to cultural knowledge, and challenge persisting unequal power dynamics between themselves and the scholarly community. I analyze Jamaican Maroon cultural presence as firmly situated at the center of national public discourse, and how that presence is sometimes used in ways that are ideologically opposed to Maroons themselves. Jamaican Maroons and the Jamaican State respectively, strategically use Maroon music and cultural icons to give form to concepts such as nationhood, sovereignty, and cultural and ethnic distinction. This dissertation offers fresh insights into Jamaican Maroon cultural traditions—specifically the music and the social and political contexts from which it derives.  

First Name: 
Pre-Doctoral Fellow (Music)
University of Virginia
Dissertation Title: 
"Being Maroon: Music, Memory and Power in Articulations of Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Jamaican Maroonage"