Bruk Out Feminism in the Intercultural Dancehall Queen Scene

Monteiro, Celena Luz (2020) Bruk Out Feminism in the Intercultural Dancehall Queen Scene. Doctoral thesis, University of Chichester.

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Abstract

The focus of this thesis is the intercultural Dancehall Queen (DHQ) scene, as manifested between Jamaica and Europe, within the broader culture of dancehall. Dancehall is a performance culture that first developed as a resistant expression toward a postcolonial Jamaican climate in the late 1970s (Cooper, 2004). According to several dancehall scholars including Carolyn Cooper, dancehall articulates the condition of a working-class black Jamaican population. As such, much of the academic research on dancehall to date has focused on its relationship to its Jamaican socioeconomic and cultural context. Dancehall has also been found to be relevant to women outside Jamaica (Bakare-Yusuf, 2006b), but very little of the literature looks specifically at this dimension. This thesis sets out to examine the practices of Jamaican and European women in dancehall from an intercultural perspective, looking at the connectivities and tensions within this diversely positioned collective.

The research, which used a reflexive physical/digital multi-sited ethnographic methodology, offers a model for conducting research into intercultural black feminist phenomena that span transnational sites and virtual/physical embodiment and connectivity. The methodology recognises the ethnographic encounter as a performative space between researcher and participant, and develops accountable strategies for reading silence and embodied expressivity, in dialogue with verbal, textual and visual research materials in intercultural research settings. It reveals that in this study juxtapositions between hypervisibility and silence by certain black Jamaican and black European dancers amount to a decolonial articulation of the right to opacity (Glissant, 1990).

The study finds that the women in the Jamaican/European DHQ scene engage in various forms of creative, embodied and digital labour practices in the construction of their dancehall identities. It argues that this labour is underscored by a black epistemology centred on the vernacular Jamaican notion of bruk out, which put simply means to break out. The research argues that bruk out is performatively enacted within DHQ performances that engage black feminist Caribbean aesthetics that centre on the pleasure taken in performative dares that break social respectability rules. The study subsequently introduces the concept of ‘bruk out feminism’, which it argues is a performative world view that focuses on the expressivity of pleasure and pain through the construction of digital visual cultures, forms of materialist self-determination and decolonial self-preservation.

The research studies how these cultural specificities are negotiated in the intercultural exchanges between white and black, Jamaican and European, dancers. It argues that reflexive interculturalism, which centralises and empowers the practices of black women in dancehall and uses exchange, friction and dialogue to de-centre a privileged position of whiteness, enables forms of coalitional solidarity to take shape. It concludes that the scene reflects an agonistic (Mouffé, 2012) status quo, where exploitative and socially progressive predilections co-exist.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Dancehall, Bruk out, Feminism, Intercultural, Dancehall Queen, Jamaica, Ethnography, Popular Dance, Europe, Virtual Embodiment, Decolonial
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV1580 Dance
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women > HQ1101 Women. Feminism
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women > HQ12 Sexual life > HQ19 Sexual behaviour and attitudes. Sexuality
Divisions: Departments > Dance
Depositing User: Angela Roberts
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2020 14:58
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2020 07:48
URI: http://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/5355

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