The second International Reggae Conference begins on Wednesday evening with an opening ceremony at The Ruins, Mona Visitors' Lodge, UWI. Then over the following three days, various persons will present papers and there will also be performances and a visit to August Town.
Topics specific to dancehall music are part of the conference, organised under the leadership of Reggae Studies lecturer Dr Donna Hope Marquis. Gaza and gully, gays and gender are all part of the mix and Marquis will present on the first panel dealing specifically with dancehall. She will speak on 'Dancehall, Violence and Jamaican Youth: An Empirical Synopsis' while Fania Alemanno will present 'Dancehall, Women and Sport: A Preliminary Overview'.
music and youth
These are part of the Thursday mid-morning panel on 'Music and the Youth: Exploring Consumption and Influence', where Lisa Tomlinson will also examine 'Reggae, Resistance and Youth Culture in Toronto'.
Later on Thursday, in the post-lunch session 'Sacred and Secular Iterations in Dancehall', God and the genitals meet as Kenichi Ninomiya deliver 'Dancehall Gospel as Masculine Christianity', Winston C. Campbell discusses 'Suppose a God Song Mi did a Sing': A Case Study on Lyrical Typecasting in 21st Century Dancehall' and Anna Kasafi Perkins asks 'Love the long ding dong - Tanya Transgresses Christian Sensibilities?'
Early Friday morning 'Dancehall Feuds, Factions and Fandom' are up for discussion as Michael Barnett presents 'Prince Buster vs Derrick Morgan: The Original Dancehall Clash' and Sonjah Stanley Niaah comes more 'up to the time' with 'Gully vs. Gaza?: Feuds, Factions and Fuelling Fandom in Jamaican Dancehall Performance'. Annie Paul discusses 'Eyeless in Gaza and Gully: Mi deh pon di borderline' and Kim-Marie Spence's presentation is entitled 'Clash! - Jamaican Artistes in a New Digital Music Market'.
Then in Friday's mid-afternoon session dancehall figures prominently in the Language, Lyrics, Listening and Literary Issues panel. Nickesha Dawkins will look at 'Gender-based Vowels Used in Jamaican Dancehall Lyrics', Winston Campbell asks 'When Did Dancehall Cease to Exist? Thematic Engagement of Dancehall Lyrics of the '90s and 21st Century' and Lloyd Laing presents 'Inoculating the Dancehall Virus: An Introduction to Memetics'. Also in that session are Michael Kuelker (The Many Functions of the Bus in Jamaican Music) and Wayne D. Russell (Paradigm Shifts in Content: Recasting Lyrics and Images in Reggae- (A Video Supported Presentation)).
When The STAR asked Marquis if academic examination of Jamaican music still needs legitimacy and she says "in Jamaica, yes".
"You still have to be explaining why you are studying it. It is still not given the respect it deserves," she said. "I think maybe because it comes from us. It is still being taken way too much for granted."
Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga has not taken music for granted and will be presenting a special session at the conference. He will speak on 'Jamaican Music Industry as a Site of Nationalistic Fervour' in the Friday post-lunch session in the Main Library's Multi-Functional Room. "Mr Seaga understands the music culture very well. He has an understanding of Jamaican culture that many people do not have," Marquis said.
The conference also incorporates the annual Bob Marley lecture, which will be delivered by Tekla Metfet at the Undercroft on Thursday at 7 p.m.
The second International Reggae Conference's final day, Saturday, February 20, will be hosted in the Assembly Hall, beginning with a session on 'Supportive Institutions - The Jamaican Situation'. After lunch, dancehall will once again be in the mix as Ellen Koehlings and Pete Lilly speak in 'Music in Europe: The Homophobia Debate'. David Katz will give the conference's final plenary.It is hoped that the public and persons who work in the music industry will turn out for the International Reggae Conference 2010. Marquis says that often players in the music industry get so caught up in their projects that they can lose sight of the larger picture. "This is an industry. It has a history and it has a future," she said.