Narratives of Resistance in Trinidad’s Calypso and Soca Music


  • Meagan A. Sylvester The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus



In Trinidad, the historical, socio-political and economic conditions which gave rise to the birth of Calypso are usually highlighted, in the existing literature, however, there is very little information regarding the oppositional lyrics of current Soca songs. By concentrating on the praxis of cultural resistance exemplified in the narratives of selected Carnival, Calypso and Soca songs, this article expands the existing discourse. Trinidad’s Carnival, post-emancipation, has important societal roles and functions. This article demonstrates that Carnival functions as performative rituals of resistance, individual and community awakening and identity development. Carnival’s established roles, functions and rituals are deliberately designed to disrupt the status quo.

Author Biography

Meagan A. Sylvester, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus

Meagan Sylvester is a published author of over fifteen book chapters and journal articles and is a well know public academic in her native Trinidad and Tobago where she participates in both television and radio discussions on the Calypso and Soca musical art forms. Her research topics of interest are Music and National Identity in Calypso and Soca, Music of Diasporic Carnivals, Narratives of Resistance in Calypso and Ragga Soca music, Steelpan and Kaiso Jazz musical identities, Gender and Identity in Calypso and Soca music, and Music and Human Rights in the Americas. She recently completed a PhD in Sociology of Music at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago, and holds memberships in professional organizations including the Society for Ethnomusicology, the International Association of the Study for Popular Music, Caribbean Studies Association, and the Association of Black Sociologists.