ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow 2021-22
ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow 2021-22
‘H’ Patten is an associate lecturer in African/Caribbean dance on the Irie! Dance Theatre BA (hons) degree course. He received his PhD from Canterbury Christ Church University. Having authored a number of chapters on reggae/dancehall culture, ‘H’ is currently completing a monograph on the spiritual genealogy of Jamaican reggae/dancehall dance, as well as co-editing a book on in/securities relating to dancehall performance. An experienced choreographer, filmmaker, visual artist, storyteller and performer, ‘H’ has gained an international reputation in African and Caribbean arts over the past 34 years. ‘H’ has choreographed for the Ghanaian, Nigerian, Sierra Leonean, Malawian and Zambian National Dance Companies, the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble in Jamaica and many other high profile and distinguished productions. Awarded the Jamaican High Commission 50th Anniversary award for services in the field of Arts, Culture and Entertainment (2012), his commitment to academic research, arts, culture and education led him to successfully found the Korotech Dancefest Professional Development Training Programme, delivering popular and dynamic creative training and research in West Africa and the Caribbean since 2007. ‘H’ has more recently worked on international research projects including the Open University, Decolonising Peace Education project.
My research focuses on the migration and genealogical history of reggae/dancehall contemporary urban dance in Britain. The culture of young Black British people exists at the intersection of race, gender, racism and social (in)justice. Engaging these crucial discourses, reggae/dancehall’s presentation as a vibrant cultural expression, is often misunderstood and dismissed as vulgarity and violence (Cooper, 2004). This obscures reggae/dancehall’s subversive connection to the Decolonial School of thought wherein resistance and re-existence facilitates change and transformation of circumstances (Albán-Achinte in Tlostanova, 2017). This research presents an alternative narrative, positioning reggae/dancehall as a continuity of resistance and survival amongst disenfranchised and marginalised young people.
I contend that reggae/dancehall dance provides young Black people with a vehicle that serves to undermine the dominant narrative, which perceives Black bodies as threatening, placing them under attack. As an alternative to the frustration some young people channel through gang warfare, gun and knife crime, reggae/dancehall will be used to demonstrate how the murders of George Floyd (USA), Stephen Lawrence (UK) and historically oppressed Black bodies connect to cultures of resistance and re-existence. This facilitates the re-imagination of Black reggae/dancehall bodies as dynamic, vulnerable, powerful, playful and creative.
This research seeks to provide the first mapping of British reggae/dancehall through the lens of the dance vocabulary, dancing bodies, and British socio-political movements and events they historically intersect. Jamaican popular culture has significantly contributed to British culture, migrating to Britain amidst the Windrush generation’s Caribbean culture from 1948 onwards, influencing: Punk, Two Tone, Drum and Bass, Hip Hop, Jungle, UK Garage, and Grime.
This project extends my ethnographic and auto/ethnographic research on reggae/dancehall in Jamaica (2010-2018), investigating its genealogical spiritual links, by attempting to present reggae/dancehall’s direct contribution to the artistic, socio-politico-economic and technical impact of Britain’s creative industries globally, opposing the pathological narratives that currently exist.
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