Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Beyond Rum and Coca-Cola: The Radical and Creative Origins of the Steelpan

Friday, October 26, 2018

5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum

The Development Studies program of the Watson Institute, in collaboration with the Africana Studies Department and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and with support from the Brown Arts Initiative, Art at Watson, the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the Music Department, the Physics Department, and First Works, presents a panel discussion on the steelpan. The panelists explore the origins of the steelpan in Trinidad among the most marginal youth, in the dying stages of British colonialism and the shift to American hegemony in the Caribbean; its movement from the margins to the mainstream of Trinidadian culture; its spread beyond the Caribbean; and the science behind the instrument. The discussion complicates the image of leisure and tourism commonly associated with the instrument, which has obscured its historical context of political and economic struggles and the triumph of human creativity and will it represents.

Commentators on the panel will include:

Patsy Lewis, (moderator),  Director Development Studies, Watson Institute

Stephon Alexander, Professor of Physics, and Faculty Affiliate, Africa Studies Department, Brown University - “Pan Physics”

Zophia Edwards, Assistant Professor, Sociology, Providence College - “Petrol, Pan, and the Creative Resistive Power of a People”

Brian Meeks, Professor and Chair, Africana Studies Department, Brown University - “Steelband, Social Class and the Politics of the Anti-Colonial Moment”

Ivor Picou, Pan Fantasy Steelband - “Pan on the Move: steelpan across borders”