Item# 0948390808

Product Description

by Hollis "Chalkdust" Liverpool, Ph. D

Rituals Of Power & Rebellion by noted historian and calypsonian, Dr. Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool, is a masterpiece of scholarship, insight and impressive research. An in-depth study of the evolution of Carnival in the Caribbean and in Trinidad and Tobago in particular, “Rituals of Power and Rebellion” is that history lesson, which needed to be told and which now needs to be read by all people of the African Diaspora. Dr. Liverpool uses his wonderful skills as a storyteller to keep his readers enthralled as he unravels the many layers of social, anthropological, cultural and musical history, which have contributed to the survival and evolution of Carnival. As a history of Carnival, “Rituals of Power & Rebellion” is unparalleled. It covers all aspect of Carnival’s growth and evolution. The book takes the reader beyond the shores of Trinidad and Tobago as it examines the strong cultural and social ties, which kept the displaced and enslaved African closely connected to his African traditions, as evidenced by the nature and characteristics of the Caribbean masquerade. “Enslavement, then, did not cut the cultural rope linking Africa to the New World. Rather, there was always continuity and change. The Carnival in Trinidad then, was filled with African traditions of mask, masking, masquerading, singing, and dancing.” Dr. Liverpool shows how European and other ethnic traditions also influenced the manner in which Carnival evolved. “The tradition of Carnival, it will be seen, was utilized by the people as part of their organized cultural resistance, to check the imposition of European values and customs on Africans generally. “Rituals of Power & Rebellion” is a wealth of information. It brings together many of the elements - positive and negative - which have contributed to the social and cultural evolution of the displaced and enslaved African. It gives the reader an in-depth look at the traditions and customs of Africa which survived the Middle Passage - those African myths, customs and rituals, which are so important to the heritage of the displaced African wherever he happens to be. That the Carnival tradition survived from 1783 to 196 was due in no small measure to the resilience of the Africans in Trinidad and their determination to carry out their West African traditions despite the attempts of the dominant elites and the Colonial Government to rob them of their memories and legacies. Calypso is traditional Carnival and Dr. Liverpool gives his readers a master’s course on this subject as he shows the direct relationship of calypso to the music of Africa in technique, rhythm and style. “The roots of music and dance as contained in the Carnival of Trinidad go back therefore to Africa, where all aspects of community life.” The book gives a detailed look at the various musical instruments and the patterns of music, which have influenced the development of calypso, as well as other forms of Caribbean music. It is a fascinating account, which gives in great details, evidence of the strong connection, which the music of the Caribbean still has with the African continent. We are told that, “Singing in the Caribbean followed the African impromptu style and call-and-response patter,” Dr. Liverpool gives such an in-depth analysis of the subject that this book becomes a most useful reference for students of Caribbean/African musicology. Rituals of Power & Rebellion educates the reader on the evolution of Carnival, the music and the masking and, in so doing, gives a remarkably in-depth historical review of the period in question. Not only does it provide scholarly instruction on the political and cultural aspects of the celebration of Carnival from 1763 to 1962, but it also gives an insightful account of Trinidad’s history during that period. It shows the adaptability of the masses to the forces of the times and clearly demonstrates the indubitable spirit of the displaced and enslaved African in the struggle to survive the harshest of conditions in a place far removed from the land of his forefathers. On reading Rituals of Power & Rebellion one becomes acutely conscious of the important role of a people’s heritage on their cultural and social evolution, often in ways not usually considered. Dr. Liverpool has written an exceptional book. To his credit as a storyteller, this remarkable historical account flows beautifully and becomes an easy read. It will, no doubt, become an important part of scholarship for students of Afro/Caribbean studies. It should also become a much-used reference on bookshelves in the homes of anyone interested in the evolution of Carnival in the Caribbean and in the cultural history of people of the African Diaspora. Hats off to Dr. Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool fro such an impressive tour de force. Kanchan Gilfillian & Anthony County

Pasperback: 518 pages