[Blackstudies-l] New Book Focuses On The African-Jamaican Aesthetic In Literature

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Mon Aug 14 13:32:51 EDT 2017

lisaparavisini posted: " A report by Neil Armstrong for
Jamaica's Gleaner. Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to
our attention. Lisa Tomlinson's new book, The African-Jamaican Aesthetic:
Cultural Retention and Transformation Across Borders, adds to the body of "
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<http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/> New Book Focuses On
The African-Jamaican Aesthetic In Literature
lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>

[image: Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 10.05.02 PM.png][image: 4000433.jpg]

A report by Neil Armstrong for Jamaica's *Gleaner*.
thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

Lisa Tomlinson's new book, *The African-Jamaican Aesthetic: Cultural
Retention and Transformation Across Borders*, adds to the body of research
examining the ways in which diasporic African-Jamaican writers create their
works by tapping into the cultural aesthetics of their African and
Caribbean roots to interpret their place in their new homes and local
cultures abroad.

Tomlinson, a researcher and scholar, who teaches at the University of the
West Indies, Mona campus, in Kingston, Jamaica, explores the writings of
Jamaican pioneers, authors Claude McKay and Una Marson, to highlight their
ability to draw from the indigenous knowledges around them to counter the
Eurocentric focus in literature in the early 1900s.

She also examines the works of dub poets Lillian Allen, Afua Cooper and
Adhri Zhina Mandiela in Canada; and Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jean 'Binta'
Breeze and Benjamin Zephaniah in the United Kingdom. Also featured are the
writings of novelists Makeda Silvera of Canada and Joan Riley of the UK.

"This study examines the African-Jamaican aesthetic impulse in diasporic
dub poetry and fiction, paying particular attention to how these art forms
have developed and been mediated in Canadian and British contexts. More
specifically, I explore how African-Jamaican cultural productions of the
Diaspora are employed as a means of recovering, rearticulating, and
remaking cultural identities that have been disrupted by histories of
slavery and colonial conquest," notes Tomlinson in the introduction of the

She notes, "My research demonstrates how the cultivation of an
African-Jamaican aesthetic plays a key role in inspiring community
activism, creating cultural spaces, and forging and sustaining cultural
identities in Caribbean Diasporas."

Referencing the work of Professor George Dei to help provide the context of
her research, Tomlinson notes that according to Dei, "indigenous knowledges
provide an anti-colonial framework and constitute a kind of 'knowledge
consciousness that arises from the colonised presence'".

"Within an African-Jamaican diasporic framework, these knowledges may
include nation language (Patwa), religion, music, dance, folk culture, and
ritual, all of which inform African-Jamaican diasporic writing," she notes.

Drawing from her experience as a young child going to school in Canada in
the late 1970s and 1980s, Tomlinson notes that it was through the oral
tradition that she learnt about her Jamaican heritage and culture.

In school, there was very little reference to Jamaica, the Caribbean, or
Africa, and she felt alienated until her Grade 6 teacher introduced
Caribbean folk songs into the classroom.

This delighted her, and she was able to translate the Jamaican creole words
to her classmates.

The reggae played in her home also fuelled her interest, and in her teenage
years, she "came to understand that the various forms of orality that were
at the root of my home were so empowering and meaningful because they
offered me a means to recentre myself in an environment with which I often
felt at odds".

Tomlinson begins her research with an examination of work songs, proverbs,
and storytelling. which she views as the "early and instrumental markers of
indigenous African-Jamaican aesthetics".

She charts the importance of these folk cultural art forms in the genesis
of a national literature of the island.

"Jamaica's rich legacy of oral cultures offers counter-narratives to
dominant discourses of the region by reimagining the social realities of
African-Jamaican communities, retelling African diasporic histories and
restoring social agency," she writes.

Tomlinson examines the African-Jamaican aesthetic, pan-Africanism, and
decolonisation in early Jamaican literature mainly in the works of McKay
and Marson and crosses over to the Diaspora, where she focuses on the
reggae aesthetics, dub, and the literary diaspora.

She also explores gender, race, and class in the chapter "Gendering Dub
Culture Across Diaspora: Jamaican Female Dub Poets in Canada and England"
and focuses on the writings of novelists in the chapter, " Home Away from
Home: The African-Jamaican Aesthetic in Diaspora Novels."

Having lived in Toronto, where she had access to the dub poets Allen,
Cooper, and Mandiela, Tomlinson conducts a close examination of their works
to highlight the feminist aesthetics therein.

She notes that following in the tradition of Una Marson and Louise Bennett,
these three dub poets "all employ an African-Jamaican aesthetic to
articulate the social conditions of black women in Africa and the Diaspora
and to call for opposition to patriarchal systems of oppression and black
male dominance in the private sphere".

To provide a comparative analysis, Tomlinson includes the works of Breeze
and does a similar examination in the novels of Silvera and Riley.

What Tomlinson's new book does is to critically examine the ways in which
African-Jamaican writers in the Diaspora source their creativity from their
homeland, Jamaica, and from their African ancestry, while creating works
that mediate their understanding of themselves and their situations in
their new home countries, new environments.

The book is published by Brill/Rodopi, based in Leiden and Boston.

Book information:

*The African-Jamaican Aesthetic: Cultural Retention and Transformation
Across Borders*

Lisa Tomlinson

Leiden/Boston: Brill/Rodopi, 2017

236 pages

ISBN: 978-9004338005

*lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>* |
August 13, 2017 at 10:08 pm | Categories: News
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/news/> | URL: http://wp.me/psnTa-wMD

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