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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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The construction of a religious chain of memory

The construction of a religious chain of memory

(p.105) 6 The construction of a religious chain of memory
Time and Memory in Reggae Music

Sarah Dayens

Manchester University Press

Reggae music and the Rastafari movement transmit a memory of slavery and a memory of Africa that can be characterised as diasporic, in relation to an original center as much as to the shared experience which followed a founding event: the forced exile provoked by the slave trade. This collective memory is reinforced by a strong identification with the history of the Bible, especially the story of the Twelve Tribes of Israel: a people without a land, and gods in exile who ‘are not dead’ but participate in the transmission of a memory that is alive and in the construction of a collective identity. For the rastas, the members of the African diaspora, exiled across the ocean, are the descendants of the biblical Twelve Tribes of Israel. The Rastafari movement transmits a religious memory as well as a religious construction of the origin. Within reggae lyrics are found three types of ‘Psalm borrowings’: simple references to the original Psalm, adaptations and literal quotations that conform to the original. Psalm 23 is among the most referenced psalms in reggae music.

Keywords:   reggae, African diaspora, collective memory, slavery, psalms, Bible, Twelve Tribes, Rastafari movement, religious memory, transmission

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