Introduction And Popular Culture

Introduction And Popular Culture

Introduction and Popular Culture

BIS341 Caribbean Media & Popular Culture


Welcome & Introduction

Course Overview

Media and Popular Culture

Welcome & Introduction

Prof Susan Harewood

PhD Communications, UIUC

Research = Caribbean popular culture

Primarily music and film

Barbados & England


Class Overview: Course Objectives

Exploration of the cultural politics of representations of the Caribbean

Made by people from outside of the Caribbean

Made by the people of the Caribbean

At the end of this course students will have engaged with material that would allow them to:

Theorize the roles that popular culture plays in social and political processes

Describe the common tropes used in non-Caribbean representations of the region

Compare and contrast external representations to the ways Caribbean filmmakers, television producers, musicians, authors, and festival artists represent Caribbean culture and its multicultural population

Class Overview: Progress of the Course

Weeks 2 & 3 Locating the Caribbean in Space and Time and the Imagination

What do the different narratives of Caribbean history tell us about the Caribbean and about history?

Where are the borders of the Caribbean?

Popular culture & meaning making – how do persistent historical representations of the Caribbean make meaning about the Caribbean today?

Class Overview: Progress of the Course

Week 4 & 5 The Cultural Politics of Food, Food TV and Food Writing

Food as a cultural practice

The roles of food television in our recognition of ‘the other’

Cynthia Nelson, food writer, journalist

Class Overview: Progress of the Course

Weeks 6 & 7 The Cultural Politics of Music

The Caribbean as a musical region

Focus on calypso

Meanings of calypso in the Caribbean

also, Meanings of calypso in the UK

Meanings of calypso in the USA

Forms of soca

Class Overview: Progress of the Course

Weeks 8 & 9 The Cultural Politics of Religion

Syncretic religions of the Caribbean

Media & Caribbean faith

Voudou vs Voodoo

Focus on Rastafari

Rastafari and Reggae

Forms of Evaluation

Reading and Lecture Assignments……….20%

Assigned Media Assignments………………35%

Analytical Assignments…………………….….40%

Late Policy

Complete ALL assignments on time. I am aware that life can get hectic – especially these days – and that you have a number of competing responsibilities. However, please recognize that this class is one of those responsibilities. PLEASE try and communicate with me as early as possible if you are having difficulties.

Collaborative assignments will not be accepted as late because your classmates rely on you to complete your work in a timely fashion so that they can complete their own work. This includes discussion posts and peer review assignments.

Individual assignments have a window – there is the deadline posted on Canvas and then there is three days grace. Submitting your assignments on time will help you keep on track. Nevertheless, if you have to take the extra three days you will not be penalized.

Popular Culture and Media

Defining ‘popular culture’

Defining ‘culture’

Culture is how we make the world meaningful

We use symbols/codes/languages to name the world and its concepts

Our cultural practices emerge from our cultural contexts and they reinforce those cultural contexts

Defining ‘popular culture’

Set of symbolic/aesthetic practices

Term used three ways

Of the people

Well-liked & deliberately made to be well-liked

Zone of political struggle


Popular culture – of the people



Express the values and interests of a people

Popular culture – well-liked

Industrial production

Mediated content

Deliberately made to be well-liked

Popular culture – zone of political struggle


Political theory

Traditional Marxist hegemony

Coercion only

Gramscian Marxist hegemony

Combination of coercion and consent


Antonio Gramsci

Gramscian hegemony

Political legitimacy

“The dominant class achieves hegemony when it is able to win over the minds and hearts of the oppressed. When we speak in the language of the dominant class and see through their eyes, that’s when hegemony is achieved.”

The non-dominant class also seeks to achieve hegemony by seeking to win minds and hearts of the oppressed.

Struggle over meaning

Gramscian hegemony & the work of culture

Importance of cultural production

Those who wish to lead will borrow from the meanings of the ‘other side’ in order to craft their message

Popular culture becomes the site at which people fight over meaning because meaning is power

It is a complex, subtle process

I Like it Like that: Thinking about popular culture

I Like it Like That – Popular culture

The beginnings of “I like it Like That”

Boogaloo craze 1966-1968

New York African Americans and Puerto Ricans living side by side, sharing musical styles

Recorded 1966

Pete Rodriguez

West Indian promoters needed a recording

Puerto Rican creative production/resistance

The sound of “I Like it Like That”

“I like it like that has all the trappings of Latin Boogaloo: the opening piano lick, the handclapping and ever-present chorus throughout, the raucous laugher and shouting, the adlibbed conversation and goofy comments, the ecstatic buildups and restarts, the inter twining of montunos and mambo rhythms with R&B-style backbeats, and vocals with lyrics in English. Juan Flores

Corporate use of the people’s culture

Burger King 1996

Cardi B, Bad Bunny, J Blavin

Cardi B: When I finally got their verses, I was so excited out I was showing my family and my cousins. They’re big fans of them; like, “Look at their verse, I can’t believe it!”

J Balvin: Making the song was amazing. The fact that we’re all Latinos in the song, Cardi B, Bad Bunny and myself showing our culture in the right way, which was in a cool way. Latinos (definitely have a) cool and beautiful culture.

Bad Bunny: Making this song was like making music with my family. Latinos are very united, and music runs in our blood so when it came time to do this track it was all about keeping it fun and energetic

I like it like that – first verses what do we learn?

Pete Rodriguez

Wow, am I feeling good, man?

Let me say this now

Here and now let’s get this straight

Boogaloo, baby, I made it great

Because I gave it the Latin beat

Just commence your feet to skate

Pick up your arms and make em shake

Baby if you think you’re shy

Do me a favor, honey, go some place and hide

Cardi B

Now I like dollars, I like diamonds

I like stuntin’, I like shinin’

I like million dollar deals

Where’s my pen? Bitch I’m signin’

I like those Balenciagas

The ones that look like socks

I like going to the jeweler

I put rocks all in my watch

Popular Culture

Popular Culture