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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) network 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. Caribbean carnival is a unique cultural phenomenon which has long been used as a tool to emancipate people from oppressive forces. The CCC are committed to exploring, with a particular focus on traditional masquerade, the ways in which carnival manifests itself as a diasporic cultural activity and a practice of resistance.

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. This CCC webpage is a space to share carnival research with our networks and we welcome new work in the area. Please contact Emily Zobel Marshall if you would like to showcase your academic or artistic work in Caribbean Carnival Cultures here.

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2003 Hughbon Condor, Leeds’ most successful costume designer, and his Queen, Helena Hamlet © Photographed by Max Farrar
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1970 Leeds Carnival Queens at Mecca Ballroom © Photographed by PepperPhoto
2003 Hughbon Condor, Leeds’ most successful costume designer, and his Queen, Helena Hamlet © Photographed by Max Farrar
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1970 Leeds Carnival Queens at Mecca Ballroom © Photographed by PepperPhoto
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our approach

CCC aims to create strong links with local communities of people of African, Caribbean and Asian descent and stay in dialogue with these communities. It also enables students of African, Caribbean and Asian decent within the university to examine and celebrate their cultural heritage.

Central to the CCC is the belief that art and culture can be used as a platform in the struggle for social justice. We work closely with charities such as the David Oluwale Memorial Association and the Geraldine Connor Foundation and the Leeds West Indian Carnival troupe Mama Dread’s Masqueraders to put this into action and tackle racism and social inequalities through culture and the arts.

our 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 and charities, 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. Students from the school of Cultural Studies and Humanities have helped to facilitate numerous CCC events and have 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 local, national and international carnival communities. 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.

Past events

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.

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

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

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 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.

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.

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 “‘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) Book Review:  The Tar Baby: A Global History by Brian Wagner: The Times Literary Supplement. 22 Nov 2017
  • (2016) Marshall, Emily Zobel ‘Carnival of the North’ in Caribbean Beat. Issue 140, July/August 2016. 
  • (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)

 

 

  • (2020) Chapletown Arts: Carnival at 50 Ebook
  • (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)

Carnival in a Box (2020) (An online carnival resource showcasing Carnival arts and culture curated by Tola Dabiri and Andrea Hayes during the Covid-19 pandemic): https://carnivalinabox.co.uk/about/

UK Centre for Carnival Arts: https://www.carnivalarts.org.uk/

The Black Cultural Archives (see the Ruth Thomsett and Ansel Wong carnival collections): https://blackculturalarchives.org/

London Metropolitan Archives (see the Cy Grant Collection): https://search.lma.gov.uk/scripts/mwimain.dll?logon&application=UNION_VIEW&language=144&file=[WWW_LMA]home.html

The Carnival Archive Project: http://www.carnivalarchive.org.uk/home#.X47IsC3MyqA

A platform for social justice

Central to the CCC is the belief that art and culture can be used as a platform in the struggle for social justice. We work closely with charities such as the David Oluwale Memorial Association and the Geraldine Connor Foundation and the Leeds West Indian Carnival troupe Mama Dread’s Masqueraders to put this into action and tackle racism and social inequalities through culture and the arts.

Please contact Emily Zobel Marshall if you would like to showcase your academic or artistic work in Caribbean Carnival Cultures.

Contact Dr Emily Zobel Marshall

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