Carnivale: Jump’n n’ Wav’n to di pan!

Posted: March 21, 2012 by mahmerkhan in Mar 21

Averill: “Moreover, these paradoxes I have identified – amateur vs. professional, national vs. West Indian, local vs. transnational – are in constant flux precisely because pan is a living, dynamic art form in which so many diasporic West Indians invest their time, energy, and passion.”


Averill is saying that the Pan is one of the connections that make the West Indian diaspora identity attached to the larger nation back home. It is more than just a music show, it is an active connection to an identity through a steel drum. The festival that it took, the idea of labour day in the states and how the Caribbean people celebrate it with passion along with the idea of waking up in the morning and celebrating the opening of the day “jouvay” in a French name against the colonizers is a ritualized phenomenon where the concept of being initially Trinidadian and on a larger scale West Indian/Caribbean is celebrated in unity. Without the steel pan could the parade happen? I believe otherwise. It all starts with a man named Rupert Grant, celebrating it outside otherwise it was indoors and much more quaint (prior to this it was celebrated indoors amongst smaller crowds). Grant had decided to make it public to the larger audience which visually promotes Trinidadian heritage and thats important to note because what was once indoors and exclusive (accessible to those only who knew and are Trinidadian could celebrate it) and now its not only about the celebration but more so keeping the tradition of J’ouvay. As Averil is conducting his interview, he places importance on the future generations of Trinidadian peoples. The continuation of being Trinidadian through the steel pan. Whats super interesting is that kids who misbehave do not get time to participate in pan activities, in a way excluding the individual from belonging to the larger group identity…now that’s the politics of diaspora!


My question to you is “The steel pan was made from a metal bin. Something that was ordinary become extraordinary. The likelihood of the steel pan being removed from the National narrative is close to zero, however, can the steel pan turn into something else? Can the people of Trinidad start drumming on say the Hang Drum? What would be the agents of change in a hypothetical situation? Availability? Functionality? Acoustics? Having enough players?”


Ray Allen:


Allen has gone at an extensive length to differentiate the Eastern Parkway celebrations from the Brooklyn celebrations. He makes the differentiation of the two celebrations by making clear the content of the celebration. Brooklyn was the original Trinidadian place for pan and steelbands and Parkway was scene for renewal, larger multicultural among African American individuals and Caribbean (Jamaican, Grenada, Bajen, etc) people which also serves as a venue for advertisements. In Brooklyn, the pan is heard and nothing else. The Eastern Parkway celebrations are a mix of everything. They have large music speakers playing modern pop-Caribbean music in addition to the pan. However in Brooklyn, the pan and strictly pan is heard. Brooklyn represents the Trinidadian heritage whereas J’ouvert has become a site of representation, a site of voice. J’ouvert is Where the diaspora can speak to each other about what affects them, it also represents heritage and tradition by dress and costume. They parade about issues or politics; for example: the white house painted red by bill clinton, about sick men being prescribed alcohol and beer, and so forth.


Allen says the following: “The degree to which J’Ouvert represents a conscious revitalization of tradition, or rather the final step in the natural diaspora of Trinidadian Carnival to Brooklyn, is difficult to judge from our present historical position. Moreover,individual motivations for participation vary widely” (Allen 271)


It’s important to analyze what Allen means by this. I take it as that the diaspora can change their traditions, celebrations and even merge their identities together for unified celebration* (in that moment of celebration). Celebrations like these are powerful and they are crucial to understand what the diaspora is not only saying but what do they find important.


Une questione’: Can this celebration (J’ouvert) be an object?

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