The African-Jamaican Aesthetic

Cultural Retention and Transformation Across Borders


The African-Jamaican Aesthetic explores the ways in which diasporic African-Jamaican writers employ cultural referents aesthetically in their literary works to challenge dominant European literary discourses; articulate concerns about racialization and belonging; and preserve and enact cultural continuities in their new environment(s). The creative works considered provide insight into how local and indigenous Caribbean knowledges are both changed by the transfer to new, diasporic locales and reflect a unified consciousness of African-Jamaican roots and culture. The works surveyed also reveal significant connections with a ‘past’ Africa. Indeed, Africa is treated as a central source of aesthetic influence in these writers’ expression of local cultures and indigenous knowledges. Aspects covered include language (Jamaican Patwa), religion, folklore, music, and dance to identify the continuities in an African-Jamaican aesthetic, which is understood here as an ongoing dialogue of cultural memory between the Caribbean, Africa, and diasporic spaces. Writers discussed include Claude McKay, Una Marson, Louise Bennett, Afua Cooper, Lillian Allen, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Benjamin Zephaniah, Lillian Allen, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Makeda Silvera, and Joan Riley
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EUR €88.00USD $101.00

Biographical Note

Lisa Tomlinson, PhD, is a researcher and scholar residing in Kingston, Jamaica. Her areas of specialization include literary and cultural studies of the Caribbean and African diaspora, Black literary criticism, and anti-colonial studies. She is currently a lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus in the Institute of Caribbean Studies.
Some of her publications include book chapters in Jamaica in the Canadian Experience: A Multiculturalizing Presence, Archipelagos of Sound: Transnational Caribbeanities: Women and Music, Critical Insights: Harlem Renaissance, as well as encyclopaedia entries in the Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography. Her current works include Black women’s contribution to the Pan Africanist movement, Caribbean cultural expression and its diaspora, and Black Internationalism

Review Quotes

"Lisa Tomlinson's new book, The African-Jamaican Aesthetic: Cultural Retention and Transformation Across Borders, adds to the body of research examining the ways in which diasporic African-Jamaican writers create their works by tapping into the cultural aesthetics of their African and Caribbean roots to interpret their place in their new homes and local cultures abroad."
- Neil Armstrong in the Jamaica Gleaner, 13 August 2017

"Undoubtedly, Lisa Tomlinson’s The African-Jamaican Aesthetic will become a crucial text for students and scholars working on Jamaican literature. Thanks to the author’s inclusion of such literary artists as Haitian American Edwidge Danticat, Trinidadian Merle Hodge, and African Americans Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston, this monograph will familiarise readers with the similarities, differences, and cultural exchanges between black women’s writing in the Americas more generally. In addition, Tomlinson’s meticulous exploration of Claude McKay’s work will prove of interest for specialists. Perhaps most importantly, it will compellingly assert McKay’s importance in understanding African-Jamaican literature."
- Rebecca Romdhani, Recherche littéraire / literary research

Table of contents

1. Work Songs, Proverbs, and Storytelling in Jamaican Literary Tradition
2. The African-Jamaican Aesthetic, Pan-Africanism, and Decolonization in Early Jamaican Literature
3. Crossing Over to the Diaspora: The Reggae Aesthetic, Dub, and the Literary Diaspora
4. Gendering Dub Culture Across Diaspora: Jamaican Female Dub Poets in Canada and England
5. Home Away from Home: The African-Jamaican Aesthetic in Diasporic Novels
Works Cited


All interested in the Caribbean diaspora, literary and cultural studies and, scholars and researchers concerned with the wider African diaspora