The Caribbean Regional Seminar
The Centre for Integrated Caribbean Research’s (CICR) Caribbean Regional Studies Seminar is an academic forum for advanced interdisciplinary, comparative, and integrated research on the entire Caribbean region, which includes the Dutch, French, English and Spanish cultural spheres. The scope of the seminar extends from the Humanities to the cognate Social Sciences in addition to Law.
The Centre and the Seminar seek to promote research and debate that connects cutting-edge, transnational and multi-disciplinary Caribbean and Area Studies scholarship with global issues and broad theoretical questions of significance to the wider academic community and non-scholarly public.
All are welcome to participate in the regular meetings in London.
**Scholars, young and old, wishing to present their work to the Seminar are invited to contact the convener.
Seminars Spring 2017
Thursday, 9th March (5.30pm Room 234 [Senate House])
‘My Tongue is the Blast of a Gun’: The Midnight Robber and the Carnival Trickster Tradition
Dr Emily Zobel Marshall, School of Cultural Studies and Humanities, Leeds Beckett University
‘My tongue is the blast of a gun!’ is one of the many threats directed to carnival revellers by traditional Midnight Robber masqueraders. The Midnight Robber is a quintessential Trinidadian carnival ‘badman.’ Dressed in a black sombrero adorned with skulls and coffin-shaped shoes, his long, eloquent speeches are passed down orally and descend from the West African griot tradition. He holds passers-by to ransom and revels in detailing the vengeance he will wreak on his oppressors in exchange for a prompt cash payment. He exemplifies many of the practices that were central to Caribbean carnival culture – resistance to officialdom, linguistic innovation and the disruptive nature of play, parody and humour.
This paper combines interviews conducted during the Trinidad carnival in 2017 with the analysis of Midnight Robber stories by twentieth-century Caribbean writers Nalo Hopkinson, Keith Jardim and Earle Lovelace. Through the examination of the contemporary trickster figure on the street and the page it asks if the Midnight Robber still possesses his potentially revolutionary energy. In his war of words does he still challenge damaging racial representations andauthoritarian rule – or has increasing commercialization and the touristic ‘beads and bikini’ mask drained him of his influence and power?