The research project will focus on the narratives of place, nature and environmental justice in African-Caribbean roots reggae. Whilst the literature on the distinct elements of the proposed research is growing rapidly, the field where these elements intersect is yet to be explored significantly. A deeper understanding of how our sometimes abstract understanding of the climate emergency interacts with culture, which features overtly in our everyday lives, is vital. As stated in the UN's recent report on the progress of the biodiversity goals set at COP10, governments across the globe have failed in placing value on, and integrating, traditional knowledge systems into strategies to protect the natural environment (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity 2020, 112). I argue that some of these alternative knowledge systems related to the environment are embedded within Caribbean music which has historically played an important role in the everyday.
Ultimately the project will identify a ‘decolonial green’ aesthetic in the reggae paradigm principally through musical analysis, conversations with the reggae community in Jamaica and in cities and towns throughout the UK where significant numbers of the Caribbean Diaspora have settled, and the creation of an accessible archive on the research area. It will explore how roots reggae, for both performers and listeners, constructs and mediates the relationship with the surrounding environment. After all, the roots reggae singer possesses a “prophetic voice, the voice crying out in the wilderness, the griot voice speaking to society, the psalmist’s voice” (Dawes 1999, 121). The research will not portray the global reggae community as homogenous, nor argue that roots reggae musical style is consistent in its representation of the natural world, but focus its analysis on a paradigmatic roots reggae style, whilst still examining some of the genre's subtleties.