The Global Reggae Research Project brings together researchers from the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at Birmingham City University with those from the Faculty of Humanities and Education at the University of West Indies, Mona, to explore the development of reggae across the world.
- Prof Tim Wall
- Dr Pedro Cravinho
- Dr Rachel-Ann Charles
- Dr Matt Grimes
- Dr Les Johnson
- William Ellis
- Benjamin Torrens
From UWI Institute of Caribbean Studies and Reggae Studies Unit:
- Dr Sonjah Stanley Niaah, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies and Former Director of the Institute of Caribbean Studies and Reggae Studies Unit;
- Dr Dennis Howard, Adjunct Lecturer in Cultural Studies and Ethnomusicology;
- Dr Ray Hitchins, Lecturer in Music and Coordinator, Music and Performance Studies programme.
- Kai Tapper, Doctoral student in Cultural Studies with a focus on music;
- Gavin Walters, reggae singer/songwriter and academic, Doctoral student in Cultural Studies.
The Global Reggae Research Project brings together researchers from the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at Birmingham City University with those from the Faculty of Humanities and Education at the University of West Indies, Mona, to explore the development of reggae across the world. With its origins in Jamaica in the late 1960s, by the twenty-first century Reggae had become a major part of global music culture. As well as an essential part of Jamaican cultural life and music industry, its past has also become increasingly important for Jamaican cultural heritage and highlighted as central to the island’s tourist industry. At the same time, diverse citizens from nations across the world have embraced reggae and it has become part of the mainstream of global popular music. With its strong connections to Jamaica, the UK has become a particularly vital part of reggae culture and its musicians and music industry entrepreneurs have played a central part in the vital music of black origin.
Led at BCU by Prof Tim Wall, an internationally renowned popular music studies academic and from UWI by Dr Sonjah Stanley Niaah, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies, and Former Director of the Institute of Caribbean Studies and Reggae Studies Unit, the international team draw on a range of academic subjects and practice-based research to take forward our understanding of this important part of global popular culture and music industry activity.
Both BCU and UWI have hosted iterations of the Global Reggae Conference in 2018 in Birmingham and in 2019 in Mona.
Our ERASMUS+ funding enables mobility between the two countries to establish an immersive exchange of ideas, skills and cultures between academics from the two universities in Mona and Birmingham.
The aims of our research are to:
- Increase international collaborations and facilitate discussions between academics and practitioners based at Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, and the University of West Indies’ Faculty of Humanities and Education to further the study of global reggae culture.
- Develop research skills within the research team that facilitate more developed and targeted research into the global reggae production and consumption cultures.
- Establish a record of accomplishment of excellence that can act as a foundation to secure future funded global research partnerships.
- Researchers from BCU’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, and the UWI’ Faculty of Humanities and Education draw on diverse backgrounds in popular music studies, cultural studies, ethnomusicology, archives and creative practice to create interdisciplinary approaches to studying global reggae culture.
- We are developing interdisciplinary approaches to the study of global reggae production and consumption cultures using fieldwork, interviews, ethno-musical analysis, political economies and studies of history.
Our research is embedded in the music cultures themselves and aims to be impactful for the vitality of local music cultures and industries, a shared cultural history and tourism. The project will produce a range of research outputs in the form of books, book chapter and journal articles, music performances and media creative practice that map and investigate global reggae culture.
The collaboration and its research outputs will provide the foundation for a number of impact activities, including:
- The feasibility for a permanent reggae music archive at UWI.
- Proposals for economic development in Kingston based upon the city as the foundational centre of global reggae culture.
- Building policy partnerships with civic organisations and local and national authorities to further cultural and economic development.
One LP project
The media gallery below show a small selection of the photographic elements of one of our early research outputs - the 'OneLP Reggae' project. Visiting researcher and music photographer William Ellis photographs and interviews reggae fans, musicians, scholars, and key figures from across the globe, with a reggae LP of great personal significance. Follow this link for more portraits and the accompanying interviews.