Accepted Paper:

Surinamese maroons as reggae artistes: music and marginality in Paramaribo  

Author:

Rivke Jaffe (University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how marginalized Maroon youth in urban Suriname use musical strategies in combating stigmatization and improving their socio-economic position. They use reggae and dancehall to create and recreate physical and social spaces of their own within the city and outside the forest.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines how marginalized Maroon youth in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname, make use of musical strategies in combating stigmatization and improving their socio-economic position. Traditionally, Surinamese Maroons, after escaping the plantations during slavery, have lived in semi-isolation in the country's dense rainforest. In recent decades, they have become increasingly urbanized, to the discontent of many in Paramaribo who view Maroons as backwards, violent criminals. The fact that many Maroons live in 'bad' low-income neighborhoods within the city reinforces such ideas. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and analysis of music lyrics and video clips, the paper discusses how young Maroons use reggae and dancehall to create and recreate physical and social spaces of their own within the city and outside the forest. They protest local conditions and inequity by drawing on regional images of marginality that have been shaped by Rastafari musicians in Jamaican. Simultaneously, they use this Caribbean frame to imagine hemispheric unity with Africans and African Americans. In the self-proclaimed ghettos of Paramaribo, young Maroons relate to global soundscapes and strategically use music to combat their urban marginality.

Panel W115
Urban marginalization and popular culture