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Friday, April 10 • 9:50am - 10:30am
PS1 Mental Slavery: The Faces of Power Understood through the Music of the Jamaican Urban Underclass

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Music is more than a creative expression; it could represent the voice of a politically oppressed society. The potential power of music was recognized by Plato and is now confirmed by modern scientific inquiry. The majority of Jamaica’s people have been in a constant state of oppression to which they have responded, both individually and collectively, with resistance. One form through which resistance has taken place is music. Jamaica’s Reggae music was born in poor urban communities, evolved in the context of oppression, and are often commentaries on social conditions. The lyrics cover a range of related themes: past brutality and exploitation; present corruption; Marcus Garvey and his philosophy; a longing for the lost homeland and of hopes for repatriation in Africa. All fundamentally address the political, social and moral implications of the use of power from slavery to the present day. Using content analysis and a set of indicators of power, an examination of 30 of the leading Reggae songs of the past generation will be made to answer the question: “How does Reggae music explain Jamaica’s power dynamics in terms of Gaventa’s power dimensions?” The analysis aims to identify the existence of these dimensions of power, its potential for domination, its connections to the continued inequality of the country’s underclass, as well as avenues that the underclass can use to resist domination.


Craig Barham

PhD Student, University of Louisville, School of Urban and Public Affairs
I received my bachelor’s degree in Management and Economics from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University College of the Caribbean, also in Jamaica. I attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United... Read More →

Friday April 10, 2015 9:50am - 10:30am EDT
Biscayne Ballroom (2nd floor)