Andrew W. Mellon Penn Faculty Fellow in the Humanities
2012—2013 Forum on Peripheries
Associate Professor of Music
"Antillais sans Frontieres": Sounding the Possibilities of a Borderless Caribbean Through Dominica's Creole Musics
This project explores Dominican music with the aim of generating insights into the centripetal and centrifugal routes along which its sounds, instruments, and musicians circulate—and this within Dominica itself, throughout the Antilles, and in spaces beyond the circum-Caribbean. Focusing on the musical complexities and socio-cultural meanings accruing to jing ping, cadence-lypso, and bouyon in the process of interacting with each other and with other local and translocal genres, this project investigates: 1) the many ways through which historical and contemporary junctures and disjunctures between the Anglophone and Francophone Caribbean have shaped the particular—and decidedly peripheral—spaces within which Dominican music is produced and consumed; and 2) the musical and linguistic inheritances that, forged into new statements of creole musical life, combine to provide one of the central and foundational—yet virtually unknown and woefully under-researched—sources for much of the region's popular music. By exploring the dynamics through which Dominica (always already peripheral within the Caribbean) nevertheless produces music that finds a home at the very center of Caribbean cultural life, this project aims to rethink the relationship between centers and peripheries, asking whether the creole musics of Dominica might point us toward the possibility of conceptualizing a "borderless" Caribbean.