Steelbands

Posted: March 19, 2012 by lynndts403 in Mar 21

In chapter 6: A Showcase for Pan, Shannon Dudley demonstrates the impact of politics and finance through Panorama on the emergence of the Steelband as a symbol of national culture in Trinidad.

I find this article particularly interesting as it reminds us how national symbols are often politically driven and molded rather than chosen as a result of its ability to depict the essence of a particular culture or people. I think Shannon was successful in narrating the political and financial aspects as it offers a comprehension political history of steelbands and also details its monetary worth overtime.

In j’ouvert in Brooklyn Carnival: Revitalizing Steel Pan and Ole Mas Traditions, Ray Allen discusses of the evolution of the East Parkway Parade in Brooklyn New York .  He illustrates the transformation of a small street gathering to celebrate Trinidadian culture to a massive street parade drawing hundred of thousands that celebrate Afro- Caribbean on the whole. The celebrations in itself have evolved from steel bands to DJs and large amplifiers that play reggae and other Afro-music.

As a result of this transformation, it has led to the emergence of a smaller, more intimate celebration; the J’ouvert with a ‘pan only’ policy to recapture the essence of Trinidadian culture.

I applaud and enjoyed Allen’s approach on this subject as I can easily see an academic debate on the ‘authhencity’ or rather the lack thereof of the current Eastern Parkway Parade since its celebrations have strayed so far away from its origin intent. I think it is important to address this evolution as it clearly portrays that culture is not static and interactions in diverse, pluralistic societies do change and influence cultures.

 

Questions:

  1. Why has the evolution of the Eastern Parkway Parade gone in the direction of including other Caribbean countries rather than creating other parades to represent distinct cultures? Do politics and media have something to do with this? Does it reflect on western societies’ tendency to group minorities into a single homogenous category?
  1. Are all national symbols political driven?  Do they tend to homogeneous a society and leave minority groups out (as protested by the Indo-Trinidadians)? If so, should they hold as much importance as we give them?
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