chapter  6
15 Pages

The Black Atlantic II

The politics of vernacular culture
WithPaul Williams

This chapter explains how the vernacular culture of the African diaspora represented a counterculture of modernity, paying particular attention to the formal characteristics and lyrical content of black music. It draws on the black vernacular tradition so strongly, and because Paul Gilroy identifies it as a text that demonstrates his argument about the memory of slavery. Gilroy's ideas about the politics of black music were worked up in The Black Atlantic. He argues that black vernacular culture was not subject to modernity's division of knowledge into separate spheres, where the artist, the scientist and the philosopher work in areas so specialized they cannot communicate their insights to each other. He identifies an 'ethics of antiphony', the way that antiphony enhances the sense of participating in a community, and how it symbolizes 'new, non-dominating social relationships'. A twentieth-century religious movement originating in Jamaica, Rastafarianism's adherents abide by specific codes of behaviour, dress and diet, such as the wearing of dreadlocks.