This dissertation takes an interdisciplinary approach in order to understand the dynamics and representation of (post)colonial violence in the Caribbean, Jamaica in particular. Utilizing theories from psychology, linguistics, philosophy, performance studies, and literature, I situate the contemporary violence in the larger contexts of slavery, colonialism, and globalization throughout the Americas. I argue that (post)colonial violence as represented in the literary and musical texts is a learned nonverbal language that builds upon the unrepresentable experience of slavery that I term the slave sublime. Slavery is thus the real of freedom, in the sense that, as Jacques Lacan remarks, the real always returns to its place of origin—in this case, the originary violence of conquest and slavery. I argue that slavery is ever-present in the language of violence, whether expressed in psychic, physical, linguistic, or economic domains. As I contend, certain aesthetic forms inherited from the West, the realist novel for instance, demand a certain kind of representativity and resolution that cannot accommodate the colonial and postcolonial violence of the Caribbean. Dancehall music, on the other hand, assumes the dissonant material of contemporary violence into its form, which it signifies by its very refusal of resolution; it is not merely mimetic, however, as it involves a reflection on form and history. Certainly, what has been absent until now is a reading of dancehall as a form of mediation and metalanguage, that is, language in relation to its cultural context in which structures and form are imperative. Of specific interest are the questions regarding how a violent past is socially articulated and rendered meaningful as I explore the connections between speech and writing, silence and speech, and writing and performance, and the ways in which art can mediate and mitigate violence.
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