Calypso as a Vehicle for Political Commentary: An Endangered Musical Species

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Dean, Darryl G.




Calypso, widely regarded today (in 2015) as the national music of the two-island Caribbean state of Trinidad and Tobago, was born out of the struggle in the 18th century of enslaved Africans in Trinidad to maintain their cultural traditions. The music of the slaves was banned by the colonial authorities and after emancipation in the 19th century, their songs, many with biting satirical lyrics and political and social commentary, were subject to repressive censorship laws.

Although official censorship of calypso is no longer in effect in Trinidad and Tobago, this musical genre continues to face major challenges. As more aficionados of the art form turn to soca, the more popular "jump up" or party music which developed from calypso, unofficial censorship and self-censorship as well as other factors impact negatively on this genre, raising concerns for its survival as a vehicle for political commentary.


Fine Arts
Political Science




Carleton University

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Master of Journalism: 

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Theses and Dissertations

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