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The novel Inna di dancehall: Popular culture and Politics of Identity in Jamaica by Donna Hope (ISBN: 976-640-168-3), published by the University of the West Indies Press, Kingston, Jamaica in 2006. The book has a soft paperback cover which contains five chapters and xxii preliminary pages and 160 pages. In addition, the book costs TT$ 170.00. This book by Donna Hope deals with the Jamaica's popular culture of dancehall in the relation mainly to gender and sexuality which was discussed in chapter three and violence which was in chapter four.
In chapter one of this book Donna Hope discussed about the history of dancehall and the political mismanagement by Jamaica's Manley administration that occur in Jamaica that led to economic problems, which led to unemployment and higher costs of living. During the recovery process of Jamaica's economy from the economic failure by the informal commercial importers (ICI) which created entrepreneurship opportunities such as for women who traded their local goods such as rum for foreign goods such as food and clothing from countries such as Curacao and eventually the United States for resale in Jamaica, which aided in stabilization of Jamaica's economy.
From these social and political pressure in Jamaica arose the need of "the opening of the safety valve to release the pent-up frustrations of many dispossessed Jamaicans" (Hope 8) which lead to the development of dancehall music culture in the 1980's which was a male dominant form of which was another form of "informal economy" which created income in the times economic stiffness. Also in this chapter Donna Hope discusses that skin colour created a division in the Jamaican society and the evolution of dancehall music in contemporary or present day Jamaica was "deemed a "low culture" which was people of black or darker-skinned origin who resided in the inner cities of Kingston which were mainly St. Andrew and St. Catherine." (Hope 9). In this chapter she also introduced artist of dancehall such as deejay Winston "Yellowman" Foster who was albino who promoted dancehall music to a great extend and in that identity in that you do not have to be someone good-looking to sing but can also be someone who is physically disfigured.(Hope 10)
Then in chapter two Donna Hope introduces the term dis/place in away of defining the general term of dancehall which is a place where the dancehall competition takes place and also "provides a framework within the overlapping symbols of power and domination and the ongoing struggle within the dancehall" (Hope 25). This aids in identifying the actors that are involved in dancehall music which are the "affectors" and the "affectees." (Hope 28). In this chapter Donna Hope discusses the "affectors" and the "affectees" in depth in by explaining the major roles those individuals play that aid in happening of the dancehall culture. The "affectors" in dancehall are like the individuals who created the dancehall such as the Deejays like King Yellowman and the "affectees" are the persons who listened and part-take in the dancehall music which are identified along gender and profession for example male affectees will be like don/shotta, etc and the female will be like Miss Thing,etc.
In chapter three Donna Hope analyze the culture of dancehall in terms of gender roles and sexuality where by introducing theories which were the social construction theories that defined gender and what makes one a male or female. The distinguishing of gender generated roles in which men and women were given in society which led in past societies men were dorminant to their female which was the system of patriarchy. In this system of patriarchy men are preferred over women because of their gender and this system "promotes men to have better social and economic privileges which give them power over women and the services they provide."(Hope 37) This closely to what happens in the dancehall culture termed dis/place in which both the identity of male and female are disputed.
In this chapter Donna Hope stated that inorder for one to be male and to be granted a higher status in the dis/place he would have to "conquest" ( Hope 48) more 'punany' which is the local term for the feminine vagina, which is a form of patriarchy in contemporary Jamaica as it was in the colonial days ( Hope 48). This way of having various relationships with several female partners with or without children and who fathered the most number of children is one of the various ways in which men declare their identity.
Also in this chapter she also discusses two feminine roles which were the 'matie' and the 'skettel' (Hope 55). The matie which was the other woman of a married man and the 'skettel' was a woman that had loose behavior which makes her easily available for sexual intercourse. (Hope 60). In this chapter she compared and contrasted these two feminine roles in the dancehall culture to the wife and against on another through their physical outlooks (features) and through competitions.
Furthermore in chapter three Donna Hope discusses the "hidden queens of the dancehall culture". These hidden queens are individuals such as the Carlene the Dancehall Queen and others from other levels of the hierarchy have acquired income by utilizing the informal sector of dancehall music by showing off their "sexuality ruthlessly". (Hope 62) this clearly showed that women can go to boundaries that are strongly dominated by men, which allow women to gain their own identity or recognition. This 'so-called' crossing of borders by the women in dancehall dis/place can allow the loosing of tensions of the traditional patriarchy system that have plague the Jamaican society since the colonial regime. (Hope 77). Donna Hope also discusses that in dancehall music contest artist are not only judged on there lyrics but on physical features where as light / brown skin is preferred to that of black-skinned and they judged on their social and economic status. This is clearly showed with Dancehall Queens such as Carlene Davis who is the Browning Queen and Lady Saw who is the Black Queen. Women in the Jamaica society are preferred to light or brown skin and have European like features by the men in society.
Furthermore, in chapter 3, Donna Hope discusses male homosexuality in which she is clearly against of men being men. In the dancehall culture affectors and affectess are strongly against practicing male homosexuality even though they are not practicing Christians in they would clearly quote from the bible were homosexuality has been condemn such as in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 (Hope 80). Famous dancehall artist such as Beenie Man and Buju Banton created lyrics and portray these feelings of homosexuality that labeled male homosexuality (Hope 81) as something that is outrageous and should be condemned, because "male homosexuality tampers with the definitions of masculine identity through sex and sexual identity where manhood has traditionally defined as male domination over women."
In chapter four of the book Donna Hope makes reference to the "Hollywoodization" of the Jamaica society. She also clearly states that "lyrical violence is linked to real acts of violence that occur in the internal cities of Kingston which were mainly St. Andrew and St. Catherine." (Hope 88) She concludes this by drawing on previous studies on dancehall music is linked directly on the flood of violent symbols and messages that are emitted in the dancehall's lyrical and cultural output" (Hope 88) The "affectors" portray various forms of violence such as gun and sexual violence and violence against society as a whole.
In this chapter Hope also mentions two "affectees" which were the "don" and the "shotta". The Don is an individual that is considered to have high political and economic gain. Also this term is used to describe men of lower social and economic status in the inner cities of Kingston.(Hope 91) They are also known as the 'king-pin' of the inner cities/ 'ghetto'. The Shotta is known as the gunmen of the inner cities who are in gangs and controlled by the 'king-pin' of the 'ghetto', the don (Hope 94). These dons and shottas are known as the "anti-heroes of violence in the dancehall dis/place" (Hope 91). These two "affectess" the don and shotta symbolize a figure that is highly important and recognized in the dancehall dis/place and by the youths of these inner cities in which the youths seek guidance inorder to acquire social and economic stability.