“400 Years”: Modernity, The Longue Durée, and Jamaican Music

  • Kenneth L. Shonk
  • Daniel Robert McClureEmail author
Part of the Pop Music, Culture and Identity book series (PMCI)


This chapter examines reggae music from Jamaica through the longue durée framework of modernity—the historical processes arising after the 1400s, including colonialism, the Atlantic Slave system, capitalism, the Enlightenment, the nation-state (or nationalism), and imperialism. Reggae music in the 1970s exemplified the time-space compression characterizing the experience of people of African descent caught in the deep legacies of modernity. Through pop songs, reggae artists tied the experience of enslavement to the contemporary conditions of black Jamaicans caught in an anti-black world with its ongoing marginalization of people of African descent. The Rastafarian influence on reggae represented modernity as Babylon (taken from the Old Testament), with people of African descent trapped in a similar situation as the Israelites who sought a return to Zion. These global sounds found their way into the U.K. and the U.S. production techniques and musical aesthetics in the 1970s and 1980s—from hip-hop to post-punk.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Wisconsin–La CrosseLa CrosseUSA
  2. 2.Chapman UniversityOrangeUSA

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