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Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World

Rituals and Remembrances

Edited by Mamadou Diouf and Ifeoma Kiddoe Nwankwo

Publication Year: 2010

Along with linked modes of religiosity, music and dance have long occupied a central position in the ways in which Atlantic peoples have enacted, made sense of, and responded to their encounters with each other. This unique collection of essays connects nations from across the Atlantic---Senegal, Kenya, Trinidad, Cuba, Brazil, and the United States, among others---highlighting contemporary popular, folkloric, and religious music and dance. By tracking the continuous reframing, revision, and erasure of aural, oral, and corporeal traces, the contributors to Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World collectively argue that music and dance are the living evidence of a constant (re)composition and (re)mixing of local sounds and gestures. Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World distinguishes itself as a collection focusing on the circulation of cultural forms across the Atlantic world, tracing the paths trod by a range of music and dance forms within, across, or beyond the variety of locales that constitute the Atlantic world. The editors and contributors do so, however, without assuming that these paths have been either always in line with national, regional, or continental boundaries or always transnational, transgressive, and perfectly hybrid/syncretic. This collection seeks to reorient the discourse on cultural forms moving in the Atlantic world by being attentive to the specifics of the forms---their specific geneses, the specific uses to which they are put by their creators and consumers, and the specific ways in which they travel or churn in place. Mamadou Diouf is Leitner Family Professor of African Studies, Director of the Institute of African Studies, and Professor of History at Columbia University. Ifeoma Kiddoe Nwankwo is Associate Professor of English at Vanderbilt University.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

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pp. 1-16

Located simultaneously inside and outside Western modernities and aesthetics, Afro-Atlantic peoples have used music and dance to continually represent and reinvent their multiple bases of identity—physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Through the two genres, these communities dramatize, articulate, and appreciate their historical narratives in relation to their African, European, and ...

I. Religion

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The Economic Vitamins of Cuba: Sacred and Other Dance Performance

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pp. 19-40

To view this chapter, refer to the print version of this title.

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Performing Pentecostalism: Music, Identity, and the Interplay of Jamaican and African American Styles

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pp. 41-54

A growing trend in contemporary African American gospel has been the incorporation of West Indian influences in performances and commercial recordings. This trend is not particularly surprising, since for decades,music scholars have recognized the transnational ties between Jamaica and the United States. These ties have had a profound impact on the development of sacred...

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“The Women Have on All Their Clothes”: Reading the Texts of Holy Hip-Hop

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pp. 55-75

Hip-hop, a billion-dollar global phenomenon comprised of graffiti art, turntable artistry, break dancing, and rap, has evoked some of the most complex and incendiary public discourse of the last thirty years. With music and cultural critics citing rap music’s role in educating youth and in showcasing the “pro-woman” lyrical power of some female...

II. Dance

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Rhythmic Remembrances

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pp. 79-94

In the dancing and music-making communities that I study, I see power, endurance, joy, and rapture; I see this in the visual display of worshiping, performing, believing dancers and musicians.When I witness the most common scenes of ritual performance in Haiti, Cuba, or Brazil, I am reminded of a stage full of Chicano couple dancers in California’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations,

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Citizenship and Dance in Urban Brazil: Grupo Corpo, a Case Study

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pp. 95-120

Arguably, civil society in certain countries of Latin America and the Caribbean is in a state of ruin. Perhaps because of that, the conceptualization of citizenship has become a critical point of interrogation. Arjun Appadurai and James Holston posit,...

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Muscle/Memories: How Germaine Acogny and Diane McIntyre Put Their Feet Down

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pp. 121-135

In this essay, I stage a duet between two contemporary choreographers, one Senegalese and one African American, both women of roughly the same age. I try to decipher the distinctive ways in which they vivify their African heritage in order to gain additional perspectives on how the body might participate in creating a sense of agency for a subject under duress. This inquiry...

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“To Carry the Dance of the People Beyond”: Jean Léon Destiné, Lavinia Williams, and Danse Folklorique Haïtienne

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pp. 136-157

During the week of April 7, 1951, the Haiti Tourist Information Bureau (HTIB) and the city of New York sponsored a series of cultural events celebrating Haiti Week of New York. The festivities not only served as a platform to display the ‹nest in Haitian culture but also functioned as an “appeal for collaboration” for the U.S. government and its citizens to fully participate...

III. Contemporary Music

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Motherland Hip-Hop: Connective Marginality and African American Youth Culture in Senegal and Kenya

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pp. 161-177

On October 8, 2006, an important event in the evolution of African hip-hop took place in the Cargo Club in London, England. It was an African hip-hop festival called “Afrolution,” featuring hip-hop music groups from five different countries—Zimbabwe,Malawi, Kenya, Gambia, and South Africa. Produced by Afrolution Records, this festival represented the...

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New York Bomba: Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and a Bridge Called Haiti

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pp. 178-199

It must have been around 1995, and I had just witnessed an energetic performance by the Brooklyn-based Haitian roots music ensemble Dja-Rara at a show produced by the Caribbean Cultural Center in a large Manhattan theater space. Dja-Rara’s main dancer had particularly captivated me:..

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Talking Drums: Soca and Go-Go Music as Grassroots Identity Movements

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pp. 200-213

Soca music is a fast-paced derivative of calypso. Its name is derived from Lord Shorty’s self-described mission to ‹nd the “soul of calypso.”1 It was created in the 1970s by the calypsonian Garfield Blackman, better known as Lord Shorty or the “Father of Soca,” who “began...

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Warriors of the Word: Rapso in Trinidad’s Festival Culture

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pp. 214-233

Rapso, “de power of de word in de riddim1 of de word,” is a genre of lyrically oriented rhythmic performance and music from Trinidad. It is deeply rooted in the traditions of oral culture and resistance associated with Carnival, Trinidad and Tobago’s pre-Lenten festival....

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Timba Brava: Maroon Music in Cuba

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pp. 234-256

Nowadays all acknowledge the boom of Cuban popular dance music that occurred at the opening of the 1990s and maintained itself until the closing of that decade.1 During that period, the musical practices, instrumentation, treatments of traditional themes, and all-new thematic content based on emergent realities—in short, the sound that was born...

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Salsa Memory: Revisiting Grupo Folkl

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pp. 256-268

Eddie Palmieri makes it a point these days to remind us that La Perfecta II is not meant to be a “revival band.” Rather than “reviving,” he thinks of this present-day remake of his groundbreaking band from the early 1960s, Conjunto La Perfecta, as “revisiting” an earlier concept and context. Instead of just a rerun of an older phenomenon, “revisiting” is a more creative,...

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Epilogue: Performing Memories—The Atlantic Theater of Cultural Production and Exchange

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pp. 269-274

Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World emerges out of a conference, “Rhythms of the Atlantic World: Rituals and Remembrances,” held at the University of Michigan in the spring of 2005. Conference participants explored the ways the peoples of the Atlantic turned to music, dance, and religious rituals to express their experiences of crossing and recrossing that...


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pp. 275-280


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pp. 281-292

E-ISBN-13: 9780472027477
E-ISBN-10: 0472027476
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472050963
Print-ISBN-10: 0472050966

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 3 photographs
Publication Year: 2010