Afro-Asian Atlantic: Literature, Reggae, and the Caribbean

March 21, 2016 - 4:30pm
Betts Auditorium

Join the Department of African American Studies and the Program in American Studies for a conversation about the intersections between the literary, musical, and cultural currents of the African and Asian diasporas in the Atlantic World. Featuring British authors Kerry Young (Pao and Gloria) and Hannah Lowe (Chick and Long Time No See) in conversation with Randy Chin, the CEO of VP Records, based in Queens, NY, the most influential independent record label of reggae and Caribbean music (artists represented include: Gregory Isaacs, Sean Paul, Beenie Man). Moderated by Tao Leigh Goffe (Princeton University) and John Kuo Wei Tchen (NYU).
In this dialogue, guest speakers Randy Chin, Kerry Young, and Hannah Lowe will discuss the African and Asian cultural heritage of the Caribbean in music and writing. Exploring the legacy of enslaved African labor and Chinese indentured labor in the Caribbean, Young and Lowe craft narratives that reconstruct and trouble colonial history. The region’s history cannot be fully understood without listening to its rich musical tradition. Chin will talk about the role of Jamaican Chinese businessmen in the production of reggae music and mobile soundsystems. He will also talk about his storied career in the reggae music industry, which began when his parents Vincent and Patricia Chin founded VP Records in Jamaica in 1979.  The currents of the
Black Atlantic and the overseas Chinese converge in Caribbean music but also in Young and Lowe’s novels and poetry that tackle themes such as intimacies out of wedlock, masculinities, abandonment, and criminality set in Kingston, Jamaica’s Chinatown and gambling dens in London’s East End. In these cultural texts, Jamaican patois and southern Chinese dialects are sometimes woven together to construct new narrative forms of the Afro-Asian experience in the Americas.
Together with historian John Kuo Wei Tchen and literary scholar Tao Leigh Goffe, panelists will discuss the tensions and intimacies between the minority Chinese community in the Caribbean and the majority Afro-Caribbean community. Other themes to be explored include representations of blackness and Chineseness in Caribbean diasporic literature and music.
This event is co-sponsored by the Department of African American Studies, the Program in American Studies, the Lewis Center for the Arts, and the Princeton Caribbean Connection (PCC).