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Time and Memory in Reggae MusicThe Politics of Hope$
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Sarah Daynes

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780719076213

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719076213.001.0001

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Rhetoric of oppression and social critique

Rhetoric of oppression and social critique

(p.191) 11 Rhetoric of oppression and social critique
Time and Memory in Reggae Music

Sarah Dayens

Manchester University Press

The message contained in reggae music is above all a message of denunciation: the point is to show what is really happening, based on the fundamental distinction made by Rastafari between Good and Evil, between Zion and Babylon. Within a world viewed as a permanent struggle, reggae music develops a social critique and a denunciation of oppression. Reggae is therefore a music of resistance, based on a rhetoric of oppression that defines the terms which govern a worldview, and is rooted in the daily reality of the lives of poor people in Jamaica. Reggae music argues that poverty is neither a shameful condition nor in the order of things, but rather is only the consequence of the corruption of an elite that maintains a society based on exploitation, which therefore could be changed. Rastafari can be considered as a strong critique of consumer society and, more generally, capitalism. The rhetoric of oppression developed by reggae music articulates a fundamental opposition between the oppressors and the oppressed (based on the essential distinction of Babylon/Evil and Zion/Good), and the notion of hope.

Keywords:   reggae, Rastafari movement, oppression, social critique, Jamaica, hope, poverty, resistance, capitalism, poor people

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