I would like to end this book by reflecting on a mythic Jamaican com-
munity, not a rural space with an aura of soulfulness (colloquially under-
stood) but a rough urban one, a community known as Tivoli Gardens in
the heart of Kingston. Like Erna Brodber’s b 1a c k s p a c e, with which I
began this book, Tivoli Gardens represents a diasporic territory of soul. It
is located within a nation and yet is extravagantly its own. Also, arguably
through the contemporary musical form of dancehall, Tivoli is consti-
tuted, and I mean this more than metaphorically, by memories of the dead.
For a long time it has been easier for Jamaicans (and for others engaged
in black cultural criticism) to consider the “roots” reggae culture with
which Rastafari—and for that matter Brodber’s reasonings and Eman-
cipation reenactments—is aligned a more appropriate home for the en-
actment of diasporic spirituality and reclamation than rude, recalcitrant
dancehall. And yet events that have occurred recently in Tivoli Gardens
suggest that sometimes it is through the maddening, even criminally as-
sociated form of reggae’s unruly spawn that a reckoning with the soul of
black diaspora can occur.
The Tivoli Gardens community of Kingston has, like many inner- city
communities globally, survived a series of incursions that mark into its
landscape an archive of violations. Indeed, this community was created out
of a fundamental dispossession: constructed in the 1960s after the razing
of a set of improvised communities, including a long- standing Rastafari
community known as Back- a- Wall, Tivoli emerged under the aegis of a
newly independent postcolonial government in a gesture to “clean up” Ja-
maica’s capital city.1 In a familiar story of urban planning set against impro-
vised use, the supposedly illicit presence of an indigenous, Creole religion,
.
Epilogue
.
DANCEHALL’S URBAN POSSESSIONS
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