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Centre for Culture and the Arts

Caribbean carnival cultures

Bridging the perceived gap between academic research and artistic practice in carnival and creating strong, lasting and meaningful connections between communities and organisations.

Caribbean carnival cultures

the challenge

The Caribbean Carnival Cultures (CCC) research team believe that carnival needs to be taken seriously and aim to bridge the perceived gap between academic research and artistic practice, in carnival, by encouraging a necessary dialogue between the two. 

Supported by the Centre for Culture and the Arts at Leeds Beckett, the research strand aims to kick-start carnival research in the UK and across the Caribbean diaspora. Leeds is a city perfectly placed to be leading on carnival research as it is home to the longest-running Caribbean carnival in Europe.

Caribbean Carnival Cultures Conference Dr Emily Zobel Marshall discusses this research at the Caribbean Carnival Cultures launch event

The approach

CCC aims to create better links with the community, looking at what is happening with minority ethnic communities and, how our university can be in dialogue with those communities. It also deals with the under-representation of minority ethnic students within our university and seeks to drive change in this area.

Activity has entailed collaboration with:

  • Carnival artists
  • Performers, academics
  • Designers and musicians locally, nationally and internationally
01
2003 Hughbon Condor, Leeds’ most successful costume designer, and his Queen, Helena Hamlet © Photographed by Max Farrar
02
1970 Leeds Carnival Queens at Mecca Ballroom © Photographed by PepperPhoto
03
2016 Blue Devil mas, designed and performed by RJC Dance and Rhian Kempadoo Millar © Photographed by Max Farrar
2003 Hughbon Condor, Leeds’ most successful costume designer, and his Queen, Helena Hamlet © Photographed by Max Farrar
01
1970 Leeds Carnival Queens at Mecca Ballroom © Photographed by PepperPhoto
02
2016 Blue Devil mas, designed and performed by RJC Dance and Rhian Kempadoo Millar © Photographed by Max Farrar
03
/

The impact

Through the CCC programme of events, strong, lasting and meaningful connections have been forged between Leeds Beckett’s Centre for Culture and the Arts and other arts, cultural and academic organisations, which has helped our organisation to develop its reach and its impact.

It has also helped Leeds Beckett to develop by opening up carnival-related artistic and academic activity to young people studying at our university. Final year English Literature undergraduate and postgraduate degree and PhD students helped to facilitate the 2017 conference and presented the very best aspects of our university to the public. CCC research also underpins modules at Undergraduate, Masters and PhD level designed and taught by Emily Zobel Marshall.

All key contributors regularly publish on carnival and Leeds Beckett has a fully-funded PhD student in carnival cultures and aims to provide further opportunities to enhance research in the field.

CCC aims to reach beyond the academic institution and support the local and national carnival community. Community is at the heart of carnival and the team are dedicated to creating and nurturing community links to enhance the perception and understanding of carnival globally.

1974 Leeds Ctte: Vince Wilkinson Hughbon Condor Hebrew Rawlins Arthur France Kathleen Brown George Archibald © Photographed by Max Farrar

1974 Leeds Ctte Vince Wilkinson, Hughbon Condor, Hebrew Rawlins, Arthur France, Kathleen Brown and George Archibald © Photographed by Max Farrar

Past events

The Centre for Culture and the Arts hosted this event for the launch of this book which uses a combination of photos and text to map Leeds' 50-year carnival journey and helps to illuminate the full story of Caribbean-led creativity and multicultural hospitality. Introduced by Arthur France and Emily Zobel Marshall, short talks were given by co-authors Guy Farrar, Tim Smith and Max Farrar. 

February 2018

Learning from Carnival - A discussion which involved key actors and participants from the Leeds Beckett Carnival Conference (May 2017) where central themes and lessons which emerged from the major international event will be reflected upon.

November 2017

Featuring many photographs taken by Max Farrar, this exhibition explored and celebrated the legacy of the Leeds West Indian Carnival with a mix of cultural, aesthetic and political displays including costume, film, sound and ephemera. Curated by Sonya Dyer, the exhibition reflected two journeys at the heart of the story of Leeds Carnival: the journey of carnival from its West African roots to Leeds via the Caribbean, and the journey of Leeds Carnival from humble beginnings to the highlight in Leeds’ cultural calendar it is today.

In 2014 the Centre for Culture and the Arts held a successful Caribbean Carnival Symposium. Organised by Dr Emily Zobel Marshall with Professor Emeritus Max Farrar it brought together a community of people involved in and interested in the Caribbean carnival, including such hugely popular events as the Notting Hill and Leeds West Indian Carnivals.

The conference was a celebration of Leeds West Indian Carnival's 50th anniversary and the development of a Carnival Cultures research strand at the Centre for Culture & the Arts. The Conference was supported by the Leeds West Indian Carnival together with Leeds City Council, The Geraldine Connor Foundation and Moving Worlds. The conference was opened by Arthur France MBE, Founder of the Leeds West Indian Carnival.

Film screening of carnival film 'Our Soul Turned Inside Out' at Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton.

This film was originally screened in Leeds in May 2017 at the Leeds Beckett Caribbean Carnival Conference at the Little Reliance Cinema.

'Our Soul Turned Inside Out' is a documentary that examines traditional Carnival characters created in the 19th century crucible of slavery and emancipation.

Produced by The Carnival Institute of Trinidad and Tobago, this film documents and celebrates some of Trinidad and Tobago’s traditional carnival Characters. This event was hosted by Chapeltown Arts, Leeds Black Film Club, Remember Oluwale, Leeds DynaMix, Conversations in Black History and supported by Leeds Beckett University Centre for Culture and the Arts. It was attended by over 50 people and followed by a lively debate on carnival and politics.

The 4th Chapeltown Word Junction was a carnival-themed celebration of the literary achievements of Chapeltown, its writers and beyond. Supported by the Leeds Beckett Centre for Culture and the Arts and hosted by Sai Murry, it featured performances, readings and discussion from:

  • Leeds Young Authors
    Carnival poetry
  • Hughbon Condor
    'The Flight of the Condors': nearly 50 years of three generations of carnival costume design
  • Mahalia France + Halima
    Women, Carnival and family
  • Khadijah Ibrahiim 
    Carnival and the body
  • Joe Williams
    'Carnival Chronicles'
  • Akeim Toussaint Buck
    'Red, Green, Gold & Blues': a celebration of Chapeltown's vibrant and pioneering legacy of Blues parties and Sound System Culture
  • Emily Zobel Marshall
    The Traditional Masquerade including extract of the film 'Our Soul Turned Inside Out'
  • Harrison Bundey Mama Dread Carnival Masqueraders
    in conversation on this year's Mas inspiration David Oluwale Remember Oluwale - The David Oluwale Memorial Association
  • Guy & Max Farrar
    'Celebrate: 50 years of Leeds West Indian Carnival' – discussion/ presentation on newly published book
  • Patricia Jones
    Carnival poetry
  • Trish Cooke 
    Tales From The Caribbean

Research outputs

  • (2019) Marshall, Emily Zobel, Barrat, Sue Anne & Attai, Nikoli. ‘Free Up Yuh Self ’: Transgressive Bodies and Contestations in the Carnivalesque. (Publishers TBC)
  • (2019) Marshall, Emily Zobel [Editor] ‘Power, Performance and Play: Caribbean Carnival and the Cultural Politics of Emancipation’. Caribbean Quarterly, Dec 2019. (Taylor and Francis)
  • (2018) Marshall, Emily Zobel ‘Popular Culture in Caribbean literature’ in Caribbean literature in Transition, 1970-2015, Volume 3. Cummings, R. & Donnell, A. (eds).( Cambridge University Press)
  • (2018) Marshall, Emily Zobel 'It's not all Sequins and Bikinis? Power, Performance and Play in the Leeds and Trinidad Carnival'. Book Chapter. Riggio, M (ed.). (Ian Randle Publishers)
  • (2018) Marshall, Emily Zobel “‘Nothing but Pleasant Memories of the Discipline of Slavery”:  The Trickster and the Dynamics of Racial Representation.’ Marvels & Tales: Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies. (Wayne State University Press)
  • (2018) Marshall, Emily Zobel ‘This is Not a Fairytale: Anansi and the Web of Narrative Power’ in Teverson, A (ed.) The Fairy Tale World (Routledge)
  • (2018) Marshall, Emily Zobel ‘The Leeds West Indian Carnival is Fifty: Marking its African, Asian and European Heritage’. Leeds African Studies Bulletin. Issue 79. (Winter 2017/18)
  • (2017) Marshall, Emily Zobel (with Max Farrar and Guy Farrar) ‘Popular Political Culture and the Caribbean Carnival.’ Soundings. Issue 67. (Lawrence and Wishart)
  • (2017) Book Review:  The Tar Baby: A Global History by Brian Wagner: The Times Literary Supplement. 22 Nov 2017
  • (2016) Marshall, Emily Zobel ‘Resistance Through ‘Robber Talk’: Storytelling Strategies and the Carnival Trickster in Caribbean Quarterly, Volume 62 (Taylor and Francis)
  • (2016) Marshall, Emily Zobel ‘Carnival of the North’ in Caribbean Beat. Issue 140, July/August 2016. Available from: http://caribbean-beat.com/issue-140/word-of-mouth#axzz4R1UMKs3
  • (2015) Marshall, Emily Zobel ‘Harlem Tricksters: Cheating the Cycle of Trauma in the fiction of Ralph Ellison and Nella Larsen’ in Ward, Abigail, ed., Postcolonial Traumas: Memory, Narrative, Resistance. (Palgrave Macmillan)

  • (2018) Marshall, Emily Zobel. American Trickster: Trauma Tradition and Brer Rabbit. Rowman and Littlefield: London
  • (2017) Marshall, Emily Zobel. Book Review: The Tar Baby: A Global History by Brian Wagner: The Times Literary Supplement. 22 Nov 2017
  • (2012) Marshall, Emily Zobel. Anansi’s Journey: A Story of Jamaican Cultural Resistance. University of the West Indies Press: Kingston

  • North Leeds Life (2017), Yorkshire Evening Post (2017), BBC Radio Leeds (2018)

Contact Dr Emily Zobel-Marshall

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