Take a Wine and Roll "IT"!: Breaking Through the Circumscriptive Politics of the Trini/Caribbean Dancing Body
“Take a Wine and Roll “IT”” looks at the ways in which the dance known as the wine plays an integral role in the formation of Caribbean identity politics within the US. Also known as winin’, the wine is a rolling hip dance that is informally learned at a very young age and is often performed in festive spaces throughout the Caribbean, such as Carnival. The erotic potency of the wine and its link to black and deviant sexuality re-present Afro-Caribbean winers, and women especially, as vulgar and sexually manipulative. As a result, any violence incited against them is commonly labeled as self-inflicted and self-imposed. On the other hand, winin’ reaffirms the celebration of Caribbean women’s beauty, self-confidence, and capacity to display their erotic power, as well as reclaim their right to female bodily pleasure. In turn, I argue that winin’ offers an important lens through which we can better decipher the ‘problem’ of the black feminized body who dances in public.
Because of winin’s multivalent uses and meanings, it provides a complex lens through which we can comprehend how contentious discourses on race, gender, sexuality, and trans-nationality (which then includes citizenship) are intimately expressed and contested at the level of the body. My dissertation first situates those who wine within a broader political framework by exploring the historical links between winin’ and the sexualized disciplining of black bodies, especially during the Victorian Era and colonialism. Thereafter, I complicate the focus of current debates by examining the mundane, intimate, and spectacular ways Caribbean masqueraders use their winin’ to push against, renegotiate, and/or undermine the overlapping tensions that circumscribe their dancing bodies as they participate in Trinidadian-styled Carnivals within the US. I also investigate the intersecting ways US popular culture, social-media, and other internet-based media sources work to re-construct and re-present winin’ bodies, such as Barbados-born pop-star Rihanna, in order to better understand the ways winin’ participates in discourses on shame and empowerment. Ultimately, my dissertation shifts how we analyze and understand the wine and winin’ bodies by engaging with both the histories and practices that continue to mark Caribbean dancing bodies as exotic, hyper-sexual, feminine, low-classed, and black.