Babylon East

TitleBabylon East: Performing Dancehall, Roots Reggae and Rastafari in Japan
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2010
AuthorSterling, Marvin D.
Number of Pages299
PublisherDuke University Press
CityDurham, NC
Publication Languageeng
ISBN or ASIN Number2147483647
Copies at the Archive2
In Babylon East, the anthropologist Marvin D. Sterling traces the history of the Japanese embrace of dancehall reggae and otherelements of Jamaican culture, including Rastafari, roots reggae, and dub music. He provides a nuanced ethnographic analysis of the ways that many Japanese involved in reggae as musicians and dancers, and those deeply engaged with Rastafari as a spiritual practice, seek to reimagine their lives through Jamaican culture. Steerling considers Japanese performaces and representations of Jamaican culture in clubs, competitions, and festivals; on websites; and in song lyrics, music videos, reggae magazines, travel writing, and fiction. He illuminates issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class as he discusses topics ranging from the cultural capital that Japanese dancehall artists amass by immersing themselves in dancehall culture in Jamaica, New York and England, to the use of Rastafari as a means of critiquing class difference, consumerism, and the colonial pasts of the West and Japan. Encompassing the reactions of Jamaica's artists to Japanese appropriations of Jamaican culture, as well as the relative positions of Jamaica and Japan in the world economy, Babylon East is a rare ethnographic account of the Afro-Asian cultural exchange and global discourses of blackness beyong the African diaspora.