Andrew W. Mellon Penn Faculty Fellow in the Humanities
2006—2007 Forum on Travel
Assistant Professor, Music, Penn
“Come Back Home”: Regional Travels, Global Encounters, and Local Nostalgias in Bahamian Popular Musics
Bahamian popular musics provide a unique opportunity to think about questions of travel. The interposition of the Bahamas between North America and the rest of the Caribbean, the nation’s colonial and postcolonial histories, and the increasing economic dependency on tourism over the course of the twentieth century have all contributed to interesting patterns of travel. In the Bahamian context, travel is a multi-valent concept that refers at once to physical travels, to musical migrations and media flows, and to questions of time and nostalgia—all influenced by a national identity subjected to major labor and educational migrations and to people, sounds, media, and ideas from North America and Caribbean neighbors. As part of a larger, book-length study on the popular music of the Bahamas, Prof. Rommen will examine how the Bahamian popular musical styles of rake-n-scrape, goombay, and junkanoo work out, address and partially answer these questions of travel. Interconnected in important ways, these three styles of music each illustrate distinct aspects of the travel-related concerns with which Bahamians continue to wrestle.