Paper Session
Nov 21, 2021 04:00 PM - 04:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211121T1600 20211121T1650 America/Chicago Caribbean Crossings AMS 2021
The Carnival Mirror: Musical Parody, Rousseau, and the Haitian Enlightenment
Individual Paper 04:00 PM - 04:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 22:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 22:50:00 UTC

Survivors of the Haitian Revolution describe, with trepidation, the singing of unsung revolutionaries. Expecting to hear, perhaps, a war chant, these soldiers heard instead the Marseillaise, sung with an acuity and irony that struck fear into their hearts. "Are our barbarous enemies in the right?" one witness wondered, "Are we no longer the soldiers of the Republic? Have we become the servile instruments of politics?" (_Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de Saint-Domingue_). Repeating, unaltered, the song's condemnations of "old slavery" and "vile chains," Haitian revolutionaries, in that moment, touched upon a paradox in the liberatory project of France-a nation that, fashioning itself "enslaved" to the ruling class, would hold the Caribbean in slavery for decades to come.

Decades earlier, on that very soil, colonists, seeking a certain programmatic relevance to life in the Caribbean, wracked their imaginations to compose plantation songs, sing romances in their inadequate Creole, or, blackening up, stage parodies of French operas, anticipating the minstrelsy of the 19th century. Calling upon the favorite tropes of Enlightenment opera (provincial dialect, the noble savage, _etc._), these parodies made hideous caricatures out of enslaved Africans, holding up a mirror to French pastoralism and its irresponsible glorification of the plight of the common man.

In this paper, I offer a close reading of two parodies of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's _Le Devin du village_-one from independent Haiti, one from colonial times-to show how, and why, the parody functioned as a form of Caribbean critique. Weaving together recent scholarship in musicology, Caribbean studies, and postcolonial studies, I propose that these musical examples functioned as a kind of "carnival mirror," magnifying the hideous inconsistencies of French thought, and, in so doing, "enlightening the Enlightenment." Bringing new attention to the Haitian Enlightenment, I go on to propose the refutation of static histories of genre and Eurocentric understandings of the Enlightenment.

Henry Stoll
Harvard University
The Jazz Age in the Caribbean: Musical transactions and Jazz Modalities in New Orleans, Havana and Beyond
Individual Paper 04:00 PM - 04:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 22:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 22:50:00 UTC

At the turn of the twentieth century and through the 1920s, the musical and cultural ties between New Orleans and the Caribbean were significant. Considering the multiple stylistic transactions taking place throughout the Circum-Caribbean at the time, authors like John Storm Roberts, Leonardo Acosta, Alejandra Vasquez, Alejandro Madrid, Robin Moore, and Christopher Washburn have suggested that jazz, from its origins, might be as Caribbean as it is U.S. American. Yet the contributions of musics and musicians from Latin America and the Caribbean in the development of jazz continue to be largely neglected in jazz historiography -still regarded, in many ways, as a series of discontinuous anecdotes often depicted under the condescending and symbolic umbrella of "the Latin tinge". Taking the histories of the manifold entanglements between Cuban, Haitian, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Mexican, and North American musicians at the turn of the twentieth century as a point of departure, this paper explores the various musical and discursive modalities that informed the performance of jazz in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean during the 1920s and 1930s. Following available archival documentation regarding ensembles, styles, and repertoires across the Circum-Caribbean, the analysis focuses on the idea of jazz modalities, that is, the consideration of both the meanings surrounding the word "jazz" and the diverse palette of musical practices associated with the activities of jazz bands. Rather than reaffirming a narrative of U.S. American exceptionalism -in which the musical relations in matters of jazz between the US and the Caribbean is framed in terms of the influence of the first and the passive reception by the second- this paper emphasizes the afrodiasporic entanglements as well as the dialogues and interinfluences that shaped jazz in both places in the early twentieth century. Time and again, the use of a label like "jazz" to describe local musical practices is not necessarily an attempt to bridge the gap with U.S. jazz, but it can be a way to express their autonomy and their sense of belonging to an afrodiasporic universe of hybrid musical forms.

Presenters Sergio Ospina Romero
Indiana University
Indiana University
Harvard University
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