Archive for the 'Videography' Category

09
Jan
09

In Memory of Dr. Roi Kwabena

Today is the first anniversary of the death of Dr. Roi Kwabena, someone whose presence in my own work and evolution was fundamental, a mentor and guide, a great example of a publicly engaged anthropologist — completely public, in the sense of not being tied to any academic position, and inspiring some to call themselves and see themselves as “cultural anthropologists” even without the formal “disciplining” meted out by a university program. I will not write another eulogy. I will instead quote his own words from one of his great spoken word pieces, Whether or Not: “We still thinkin’ ’bout yuh.” And by we, I mean we, since today we collaborated to set up a special ring of commemoration, between myself, Blackgirl on Mars, and Guanaguanare (and on Guacara Dreamtime), all of our lives having been touched directly by you Roi, each of us remembering you in our own way on our respective blogs. As some already know, this blog is dedicated to your memory.

The video below is an animation I made many months ago of one of Roi’s longer hybrid productions as featured on his Y42K album, part spoken word poem, part story, part melody. I was reserving featuring this video on this blog until I was ready for the next installment of (Video) Notes from the Indian Diaspora, which I began and then interrupted several months ago (see here, here, and here). Not to delay further, and to have something to commemorate Roi’s work, I present it now.

This is Sour Chutney, a story whose content is sadly like many that were told of the pains suffered personally and communally as part of the social ruptures of Indian indentureship in Trinidad. It is a story of the ardent defense of tradition and male domination in face of new realities, and the violence that is visited upon one “unlucky” young bride. Most chilling for me was the appearance of the “sin eater,” and the whole piece raised the many hairs on my back.

On this day last year, Dr. Roi Kwabena passed away from lung cancer, just one day after it was diagnosed. He had been hospitalized for suspected pneumonia. His loss weighed deeply on me, but today we celebrate his work, we don’t mourn his passing. Thank you so much Roi, for all you have done, and all you have inspired to be done in the future. You live on!

These are some surviving links to his work, still online:

Also see, Dr. Roi Kwabena: Indigenous & African Heritages, when I first had the pleasure to introduce our friendship to readers online.

25
Dec
08

Christmas in Trinidad

Thanks to Guanaguanare for sharing so much of the wonderful Trinidadian and Venezuelan Christmas:

  1. Paramin

  2. Chinee Parang

  3. Fuego Al Canon

  4. El Gavilan

  5. Un Feliz Año Pa’ Ti

  6. Sereno, Sereno

  7. Trini Christmas Is The Best

  8. Hurray, Hurray, Hurrah!

  9. Eat Something Before You Go

  10. Father Christmas

  11. It’s Christmas

  12. De Whole Hog

  13. Bring Drinks

  14. De Parang Now Start

  15. Aunque

  16. Bottle And Spoon

  17. Soca Santa

  18. Homemade Wine

  19. Ansiedad

  20. Alumbra Luna

  21. Alma Llanera

  22. Alegría

  23. All I Want For Christmas IS My Two Front Teeth

  24. Mi Burrito Sabanero

30
Oct
08

The End of Progress

I have been working and thinking about this particular project, featured below, for a while now. It is my newest “open source music video” featuring a Trinidadian calypso by King Austin (Austin Lewis), from 1980. I owe King Austin an enormous debt. I first heard this song in the pub of the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad, one afternoon in mid-August of 1990. It sucked the wind out of me from the very first time, and the song has stayed in my head ever since then. It shaped my approach to the study of international relations, specifically critiques of the Eurocentricity of international developmentalism, as propagated then by Dr. Herb Addo at UWI. It was further fed by the works of George Aseneiro and then Ashis Nandy. Layered with these extra readings and schools of thought, it eventually formed part of the basis for me to enter anthropology (although it was almost literally a toss up between anthropology and sociology that would make my final choice).

The song is a critique of the ideology and practice of progress, from the vantage points of environmental unsustainability, exploitation, inequality, and the resultant social strife. At least part of the vision is inspired by Christian teaching. Yet, his vision is one that has come to be strongly supported by recent scientific research. Indeed, in the days leading up to my concluding work on this video, a striking item was published by the BBC: “Earth on Course for ‘Eco-Crunch’.” It seems that we will need two planets to sustain our current level of consumption, environmental degradation, and growth in population.

Austin Lewis is a modest, unassuming man, who has made the most and very best of the learning made available to him. He says in an interview, “I love every human being very much. It doesn’t matter where you are from. I love all the people and I want to tell them, God bless and have a happy new year.” King Austin asks, as you will hear, some of the primary questions of philosophical importance in what has become an urgent project of utopistics. You can read the complete transcription of the lyrics, as usual, at Guanaguanare’s site, where she also links the message of the song to Steel Pulse’s “Earth Crisis” (you can see the video there, or in my vodpod).

Enough from me, or at least enough text:

29
Sep
08

The Shadows in the Dark are Blue Devils: Turning the World Upside Down

This is Ataklan again, with more video of Trinidad of a quality and nature that I could only hope to make myself. We have heard from Ataklan before on this blog, with “The Sun Starts to Rise,” which came around the time of the summer solstice, by lucky chance. Now as we enter into a darker fall, today we have “A Shadow in the Dark.” As is often the case with Trinidadian songs and videos that I like to feature here, my comrade Guanaguanare has posted this on her blog a while back, and transcribed it: see her post here.

More in a moment, but first here is the video:

I like the video for its messages of humility, tactical restraint, its suspicion and critique of dominant power, and the daily grind of those placed and held in the gutters of society:


Man, I’d rather be a shadow in the dark,
Than a big fool in spotlight.
I’d rather be a dog without a bark,
Than a loud dog without a bite.

It’s 3 Canal time again, with a video of Blue Devils dancing, classic figures from the pre-dawn J’ouvert of the Trinidadian carnival. There are many reasons why 3 Canal is the featured musical inspiration of this blog, not least of which is their rescuing of the potent political symbolism of carnival-as-resistance, their consistent critiques of capitalism and hegemony, their philosophical dwelling in the working class street, and of course their hybrid musical inventions.

Today Washington crooks cook up a transfer of public wealth into the mismanaging hands of the super wealthy, because otherwise the failure of “capitalism that works” (we have been fed a diet of propaganda of how capitalism is the best possible system, the only system that works, no viable alternatives) might have caused some “shock” to people in growing tent cities, in jobless lines, people losing their homes? Those realities of dispossession and loss will continue regardless of Wall Street’s improved health, and indeed, because of it.

This is a “world turned upside down” in another sense than the one intended by 3 canal — this is Americans’ much hated “socialism” (public funds wielded by an interventionist state) coming to the rescue of capitalism. And they will pay for it very dearly. In the meantime, John McCain entertains fantasies of no new spending on social programs, but lots of new spending on national security — an aspiring “war president” of perverse proportions, who thinks you can run an army without an economy, presumably because he is confident that China and the Gulf States will continue lending the U.S. money for its imperial adventurism? McCain looks more like an old guard figure of the declining USSR, a war-a-holic headed for the same exit, coincidentally also stuck up his melanoma in Afghan sand.

  • Public financed private wealth
  • State bailouts for the “free market”
  • A national war economy funded by foreign lenders
  • Securing economic health (for the dwellers of the tent cities?)
  • An aspiring VP Palin, who thinks the bailout is about health care…

Enjoy it, it’s your state sanctioned madness.

3 CANAL

Sphere Related Content

05
Sep
08

Victory Hate from the One Party State in 2008

29
Aug
08

“Sweet” Nationalism: Suspending Critical Disbelief for a Moment

I know many Trinidadians have become quite sour about current circumstances and prospects, a degree of hostile resignation set in a long time ago. And yet, nonetheless, in select moments you get these bursts of nationalistic enthusiasm, even love, as comes bursting forth from this video with the music of Carl Jacobs, the song being “Sugar Island.”

My favourite part: the Hindi words sung flanged.

11
Aug
08

Ethnographic Wining: A German in Trinidad

Of course, it’s Monday Morning Madness again, and on this blog when “we” (readers, correspondents, myself) are not laying intellectualized explosive devices on the highway of imperialized knowledge, we’re wining!

This is probably the fourth time that wining has been the subject of a post, and this time it comes thanks to a German comedian, Oliver Pocher, who visited Trinidad and produced a short “documentary” on wining, based on his participation in J’ouvert celebrations that come immediately at the end of Dimanche Gras at the start of the annual carnival. Not knowing about wining, he is lucky to find some kind young ladies who are willing to teach him generously. His task is also to “translate” the dance for his German audience … I am not sure he chose the right word! In my view, he has the perfect spirit needed to undertake ethnography in Trinidad, and if you’re not lauging and joking as part of your research, then you probably should be thinking of doing your work elsewhere.

The start is in German, addressing his home audience, and then switches to English. Enjoy!




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