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Performing Otherness in Guyanais Dancehall: An Analysis of the Rude Bwoy and Bad Gyal Personas


This dissertation is at the intersections of Black popular culture, French Cultural studies, and Linguistic Anthropology. Primarily, this project focuses on the diffusion of Jamaican dancehall music and culture in Guyane (French Guiana), an Overseas Department and region of France. Dancehall music as a status granting institution (Stanley Niaah 2004) offers Guyanais artists radical politics along racial, gender, sexual, and linguistic lines. Rather than looking to France, Guyanais dancehall audiences and performers, I argue, find an influential source of identification in a trans-Caribbean culture. This phenomenon complicates our understanding of Francophone identity as Guyanais people choose to identify with a regional Black Caribbean identity even as they exist in the Francophone world. More specifically, I draw on semi-structured phone interviews from dancehall enthusiasts in Guyane, a linguistic analysis of code-switching between Jamaican Creole and Guyanese Creole, and a study of the embodiment of the "bad gyal" and "rude bwoy" personas to examine how Jamaican dancehall music is creatively appropriated in Guyane.

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