Popular political cultures and the Caribbean carnival

Winter 2017

As a huge, Caribbean-led, culturally hybridised, inter-ethnic festival of popular artistic creativity and social critique, the Caribbean carnival deserves much more serious attention than it has so far received. The media tends to reduce carnival to glamorous female bodies, jerk chicken, soca music and outlandish costumes. We aim to demonstrate here that there are elements of Caribbean carnival that carry a radical message, support the display of bodies of every type, and present costumes that carry important social messages, often explaining historical events and commenting on injustice. The interpretation of carnival as performative and playful is incontestable, we suggest, but what is less commonly analysed is the play of power,

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