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Sounds of the Citizens
Dancehall and Community in Jamaica

Author(s): Anne M. Galvin

Dancehall: it's simultaneously a source of raucous energy in the streets of Kingston, Jamaica; a way of life for a group of professional artists and music professionals; and a force of stability and tension within the community. Electronically influenced, relevant to urban Jamaicans, and highly danceable, dancehall music and culture forms a core of popular entertainment in the nation. As Anne Galvin reveals in Sounds of the Citizens, the rhythms of dancehall music reverberate in complicated ways throughout the lives of countless Jamaicans.

Galvin highlights the unique alliance between the dancehall industry and community development efforts. As the central role of the state in supporting communities has diminished, the rise of private efforts such as dancehall becomes all the more crucial. The tension, however, between those involved in the industry and those within the neighborhoods is palpable and often dangerous. Amidst all this, individual Jamaicans interact with the dancehall industry and its culture to find their own paths of employment, social identity, and sexual mores.

As Sounds of the Citizens illustrates, the world of entertainment in Jamaica is serious business and uniquely positioned as a powerful force within the community.

Biography of Author(s)

Anne M. Galvin is associate professor of anthropology at St. John's University in New York City.


  • "This is a richly researched book which promises to attract scholars and students interested in Jamaican politics and community development, dancehall culture, questions of violence and global inequalities, and gender and sexual identity formation."
    Oneka LaBennett, author of She's Mad Real: Popular Culture and West Indian Girls in Brooklyn
  • "Sounds of the Citizens offers a necessary, ethnographically grounded update to the substantial literature on Jamaican popular music and culture . . . [and] careful, caring context for apprehending the ways dancehall serves as a serious force in the lives of the communities from which it issues."
    Latin American Music Review
  • "This theoretically sophisticated, well-researched book is a must read for graduate students, academics, and policy makers interested in Jamaican politics, dancehall culture, community development, globalization, and the long-term impacts of neoliberalism on postcolonial societies."
    American Ethnologist