Afrika Kolloquium Work-in-progress: Of Identity and Belonging – The Use of Jamaican in Dancehall Music. A Case Study of the Language Usage of Gambian Artists in the Austrian Diaspora

10.05.2022 17:15

by Nadine Okalanwa

Dienstag, 10. Mai 2022, 17.15 Uhr

In Präsenz: Seminarraum 1, Institut für Afrikawissenschaften, Spitalgasse 2, Hof 5, 1090 Wien

und online: im Moodle des Instituts für Afrikawissenschaften. Link wird bei Nachfrage an: zugeschickt.



Language has long been seen as a defining feature of culture that not only has the ability to shape and transform its context but is also a reflection thereof. It connects – and divides –  cultural expressions, different geographic and social spaces, and their actors. Language moreover reflects unspoken, internalized ideologies of the present and the past, and is an integral aspect in the formation of identity and feelings of belonging.

Much like language, music too is a powerful medium with the ability to form intercultural connections and collaborations, crossing cultural, social, and linguistic boundaries. With dancehall as its vehicle, Jamaican has become the language of the genre, both in Jamaica and internationally, which lead to the formation of an imagined dancehall community.

In my MA-thesis I examine the strategic language use of Gambian artists in dancehall music to find out why and how they use the languages in their repertoire. I thereby put a special focus on Jamaican as a language ever so often degraded due to the favouring of Standard English in an Eurocentric post-colonial society, and on the role of language ideologies in the formation of identity within the dancehall community.

In this presentation I will present a preliminary analysis of my empirical data and I look forward to discussing it with you.