On Carnival in Trinidad (and Plans for the Future!)

I’m still getting the hand of this website thing, and I’d like to post more African history-related content, but it’s difficult to convert papers that I write in Pages or Word to a WordPress post.  As such, I think what I’m going to do is upload papers to my Academia.edu profile and post the links here.

Here you can access the somewhat monstrous but perhaps interesting term paper I wrote for Prof. Glenn Chambers‘s excellent Comparative Black History seminar this spring.  It deals with the historiography of Carnival in Trinidad, a topic I don’t mind admitting that I knew nothing about before I embarked on my research.  I’ve long been interested in Carnival (mostly Cape Town’s Tweede Nuwejaar celebration), and after reading Colin Palmer’s 2008 book on Eric Williams for class, I became curious about the state of the historiography on a topic so fundamental to Trinidadian nationalism.  I was blown away by the profusion and quality of the extant work on Trinidad’s Carnival, particularly compared to the dearth of serious scholarship on similar revels at the Cape.

This May and June, before I leave for South Africa, is a time of relative calm, and I’m thinking of posting more of my academic work from the past semester here.  Once I start my research trips, my hope is to use the African history side of this site more like a traditional blog, with descriptions of my activities and hopefully lots of pictures.

I’ve never been to Trinidad, so unfortunately I can’t offer up any exciting pictures or anecdotes.  I will, however, leave you with some videos that gave me a better appreciation for the incredible artistry at work in Carnival.  The first, appropriately enough, is a calypso from The Mighty Sparrow entitled “Education”:

The second is a video from the 2013 Panorama competition illustrating the sheer sonic power of a massive pan orchestra.  Steel pans have become so fundamental to American stereotypes about the Caribbean that it’s easy to forget just how extraordinary they are as instruments, and how wide-ranging their repertoire can be.

Keep checking back this summer for more poetry, papers, updates about my work in South Africa, and who knows what else.  All the best, y’all.

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