Chocolate Surrealism Music, Movement, Memory, and History in the Circum-Caribbean

Njoroge Njoroge



A vibrant take on the global connections empowering Caribbean music and its global transferences

In Chocolate Surrealism: Music, Movement, Memory, and History in the Circum-Caribbean (University Press of Mississippi, Caribbean Studies Series) Njoroge Njoroge highlights connections among the production, performance, and reception of popular music at critical historical junctures in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The author sifts different origins and styles to place socio-musical movements into a larger historical framework. Calypso reigned during the turbulent interwar period and the ensuing crises of capitalism. The Cuban rumba/son complex enlivened the postwar era of American empire. Jazz exploded in the Bandung period and the rise of decolonization. And, lastly, Nuyorican Salsa coincided with the period of the civil rights movement and the beginnings of black/brown power.

Njoroge illuminates musics of the circum-Carribbean region as integrated culturally and conceptually within the larger history of the region while paying close attention to the fractures, fragmentations, and historical particularities that both unite and divide the region’s sounds. At the same time, he engages with a larger discussion of the Atlantic world.

Njoroge examines the deep interrelations between music, movement, memory, and history, an analysis that treats the music of the African diaspora as both a theoretical anchor and a mode of expression and representation of black identities and political cultures. Music and performance offer ways to re-theorize the politics of race, nationalism and musical practice, and geopolitical conjunctures, as well as re-assess the historical development of the modern world system, through the examination of local, popular responses to the global age. The book analyzes different styles, times, and politics to render a brief history of Black Atlantic sound.

Chocolate Surrealism offers new perspectives on African Diasporic music in the circum-Carribean through both re-defining the region and elaborating the connections between music and socio-political movements. The author’s interdisciplinary and novel approach to cultural and musical history, drawing on ethno-musicology, anthropology, sociology, and critical theory offers a fresh contribution to an exciting, new wave of scholarship focusing on critical engagement with the African Diaspora and the Atlantic World.

Njoroge Njoroge is an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. He works on musics of the African diaspora, Caribbean and Latin American history, Marxism and critical theory.


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