Embodied minstrelsy, racialization and redemption in reggae

Jo Haynes*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article is a case study of a local reggae DJ (DJ Derek) lauded for transgressing musical and ethnic boundaries and produced through discourses of racialized authenticity as flexible and heroic. While DJ Derek’s ethnically stylized performance could be construed as embodied minstrelsy, other aspects of his musical capital were equally significant in the localized context and were drawn into a wider dialogue of sustainability and collective belonging defined by Caribbean migrants. I argue that ambiguous cultural figures such as Derek have an organic, productive role within local music cultures, positioned at intergenerational moments in the process of identification and belonging for ethnically diverse audiences/producers and in this case where the cultural geography of music tastes are becoming embedded within a complex set of relations among local, national and transnational cultures. It is therefore analytically instructive to examine how racist, racializing and redemptive elements intersect to produce authentically syncretic music cultures and sustain transnational identifications and belonging.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2019



  • Authenticity
  • cultural appropriation
  • DJ Derek
  • popular music
  • representation
  • the Bristol Sound

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