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Centre for Culture and the Arts

Women in Carnival Research Network

The Women in Carnival Research network will be the first international network of carnival scholars and carnival artists focusing on the changing roles of women in carnival (inclusive of anyone who self identifies as a woman).

Women in Carnival Research Network

Introducing the Women in Carnival Network

We are an international network of carnival practitioners, artists and scholars committed to invigorating new debates about Caribbean carnival culture and the role of women in carnival.

We want to facilitate creative and innovative approaches to researching women and carnival by bringing artists, practitioners and academics into dialogue with one another.

The network has an international span, with key collaborates in the US, the Caribbean and the UK. We seek to celebrate, scrutinize, document and platform the many new ways women are participating in carnival; as traditional mas players, organisers, event curators, researchers, performers, artists, designers and activists.

We ask how carnival might provide a platform for Black feminist activity and activism with the potential to influence wider cultural and societal change by resisting and challenging racial and patriarchal oppression.

Women in Carnival Logo
The participants of the symposium

Our Symposiums

The Women in Caribbean Carnival project led, Emily Zobel Marshall (Leeds Beckett University) and co-investigator Cathy Thomas (University of California Santa Barbara), with support from project advisor Adeola Dewis (Cardiff University, Laku Neg), delivered three international symposiums in Trinidad (Feb 2022), California (May 2022) and Leeds (August 2022) examining the roles of women in Caribbean and diasporic carnival, following a successful AHRC research networking bid.

These dynamic, collaborative symposiums brought together researchers, artists, performers and other carnival stakeholders. The key focus on each symposium was to understand how women in carnival resist oppressive forces through the medium of carnival and to examine the sustainability and future direction of women’s role in carnival. We brought academics and artists in conversation with one another to bridge the gap between disciplines and practices.

We discovered that women in these three diasporic locations use carnival as a platform to challenge patriarchal ideas about sexuality and femininity. They do this through the medium of dance, costuming, storytelling, music and scholarship. You can find recordings of these symposiums and the speakers and artists who contributed to them on this website.

As well footage from the three international workshops, we have collated a repository of interviews, photographs and film recordings of participants preparing for carnival, reflecting on their carnival practice and taking part in carnival, all of which you can find on this site.

The project leaders and participants took part in carnival practices in both Leeds and Trinidad (and later, New Orleans Mardi Gras) and were able to reflect on the lived experience of carnival in the symposiums that followed the carnival events.

We want our network to grow and develop. We have future plans for carnival symposiums and workshops around the world. If you would like to become a part of the network or find out more about it, please contact Emily Zobel Marshall e.marshall@leedsbeckett or Cathy Thomas cathythomas@ucsb.edu. We hope you enjoy the site!

May the Mas Never Die!

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