March 21

Posted: March 21, 2012 by caponeam in Mar 21

This week the object that was the main focus within the readings was the symbolic meaning of the Steal Pan. Gage Averills article entitled “Pan is we Ting” outlines how the diasporic peoples of the West Indian Community maintain there culture within Brooklyn New York. The Steal Pan was a sought after activity that served to engage the youth of these communities. It provided a positive environment all the while promoting there diasporic identities and was highly symbolic of there home land. The steal pan is highly emblematic of the struggles of these displaced peoples and therefore is reproduced and recreated in a host nation to give thanks and remember there history and ethnic and cultural identities. The instrument represents the struggles that were felt within Trinidad and emphasizes some of the main views within the traditional Carnival that is reproduced annually within Trinidad, and around the world. To those who are unaware of this instrument is, there agency with it is almost unquestionative, they don’t know the history of it nor are they aware of the highly contentious symbolism that it represents. To those who are more inquisitive, once they choose to dig into the past of this object do they come out with a large understanding of a communities struggle for identity and unification. This is further emphasized in the next article by Shannon Dudly’s “Music from behind the Bridge: Steel band Aesthetics and politics in Trinidad and Tobago”. Within shannons chapters it is unveiled the deeper meaning behind the cultural context of the steal pan in relation to the lower class Afro-Caribbean diaspora and throughout the multiple readings the political side to this instrument is unveiled. The Author does a fantastic job at recapping the history of this object and outlining the benefits this tool has for the nations identity for particular oppressed bodies within there land. The controversy surrounding the nationhood of this object is still felt but one must look at the past in order to understand the context of its symbolism which Dudley does provide. I’m almost positive that Trinidad is not the only country with such a contested symbol of nationalism. There are many displaced peoples in multiple countries and for them, that is there home land. My question is: how would you define which people within a country have more right to declare what a national symbol should be? Within Trinidad the history would suspect that it is the displaced and oppressed people of Afro- Caribbean decent, but is that always the case?

  1. tupakkat says:


    in its national anthem, Trinidad and Tobago is depicted as an island where “every creed and race has its equal place”. The notion that one of the groups should have more rights than another appears therefore rather contradictory. The existing racial tensions are deplorable and will not be resolved by establishing new hierarchies along racial lines. A symbol that everyone can identify with equally, would be the best option, but I think many Indians have taken to doing so anyways. I wonder, though, what the Chinese opinion is …

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