Hearing Power, Sounding Freedom: Black Practices of Listening, Music-Making, and Ear-Training in the British Colonial Caribbean, 1807-1838


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This project explores how enslaved and free African people and their descendants in the British colonial Caribbean engaged with music that had its origins in Europe through listening, performance, theorizing, and composition, during the period between the banning of the transatlantic slave trade in 1807 and the granting of unrestricted freedom in 1838. By shifting perspective to how Black people heard European music, rather than how white people heard colonized and enslaved Black people, this project complicates traditional narratives about race and music in the colonial Caribbean, arguing that Black musicians used music and listening as a tool to assert their intellectual and aesthetic capabilities, while simultaneously learning, theorizing, and sometimes subverting the music of their colonizers.