|Jamaica / Denmark:
University thesis seeks to explain
homophobia in dancehall reggae
Johannes Frandsen Skjelbo, a student of University of Copenhagen, has written an analysis of Jamaican music culture in a postcolonial context, with a view to the Danish reception of Jamaican music. It was published in Danish language in March 2009.
The thesis seeks to investigate the relations between dancehall music, power structures and notions of gender in Jamaica seen in the light of postcolonial theory. The primary purpose of the study is to discuss the connections between the age of slavery, modern day society and dancehall music’s overt homophobia.
Johannes Frandsen Skjelbo demonstrates that there are many complex reasons behind Jamaica’s institutionalised homophobia — religion and slavery legacy being some of the oldest and most powerful. He also shows how music arguably is a part of the reproduction of this homophobia. Tentatively, he suggests that some pre-slavery, African, taboos concerning the body and its functions are also involved in the complex.
The debate surrounding homophobic expressions in Jamaican music has international political overtones. The thesis goes into depth with the lyrics of the anti-gay song ‘Boom Bye Bye’ and sees it as an example of how a small nation, Jamaica, uses popular music to claim its right to self-determination. Dancehall’s possible role in the spreading of AIDS is briefly discussed.
Dancehall in Denmark
Johannes Frandsen Skjelbo concludes his thesis with a brief discussion of the connections between music and physical as well as symbolic violence.
The thesis – in Danish language
|Open or download the thesis in pdf-format|
|Related reading on freemuse.org|