Slaves to the Rhythm
This chapter focuses on the conceptions of race and culture, on colonial history of rhythm and its suppression in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Trinidad, on the literature and on the persistence of rhythm in the literary and intellectual discourse of the French Caribbean islands, and ultimately, on understanding these links and the role played by rhythm in perpetuating them by shifting the focus from the Caribbean to the United States. It explores the questions and traces the history of the discourses on rhythm and race in four key American places and times. It shows how rhythm has been one of the most persistent and malleable markers of race. The chapter also explores the concept of rhythm in European and African music and emphasizes how drums are used as more than just a musical instrument. Furthermore, it discusses the connections between rhythms, music, dance, and the obscured, “denigrated” identities of circum-Caribbean black peoples and cultures.
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