Liberatory methodologies and love ethics in Caribbean music scholarship
Abstract: Concentrating on steelband performance practice, this lecture explores politics of love in steelband and how resistance might be (re)imagined herein. Discarded 55-gallon oil barrels were used for music-making in 1930s colonial Trinidad and Tobago; a period deeply shaped by discrimination of its performers. Often standing at the beginning of personal and political consciousness, music empowered participants, giving a sense of self-regard and -respect by mixing and transforming materials and musical structures, forming a symphonic steelorchestra.
Steelband musickers engage in a practice of decolonial love (Figueroa 2015; Sandoval 2000; Diaz & Moya 2012; Maldonado-Torres 2008; Ureña 2017) in the way they come together to rehearse, to learn music and congregate with supporters. This lecture suggests that such practices are decolonial ways of resisting that do not position hegemonic power at the centre of the practice, and thereby are not engaged with directly responding to power. Yomaira Figueroa (2015) understands decolonial love as “a practice that bears witness to the past while looking towards a transformative and reparative future by unraveling coloniality, the matrix of power that is manifested in our contemporary conceptions of power, gender, and bodies” (44).
Touching on liberatory methodologies (McKittrick 2021), this lecture discusses the political potential of decolonial love and thereby (re)imagines resistance in steelband performance practice by turning to “decolonial love as a theoretical and practical model for healing wounds of coloniality” (Ureña, 2017). In doing so, it illustrates how past injustices and contemporary social, political, economic inequalities that are legacies of those injustices are confronted in performance.
About the speaker
Dr. Charissa Granger is a musicologist and lecturer in cultural studies at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine(Trinidad and Tobago) whose teaching and research focuses on Afro-Caribbean and diasporic music-making and performance as decolonising practices.