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Scholarly Article

“Meh Just Realize I’s Ah Coolie Bai”: Indo-Caribbean Masculinities, Chutney Genealogies, and Qoolie Subjectivities

Author:

Ryan Persadie

Women and Gender Studies Institute, CA
About Ryan
Ryan Persadie is a PhD student in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto. He holds a MA in Ethnomusicology and Sexual Diversity Studies from the University of Toronto and Bachelor of Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in OISE. His doctoral research investigates queer Indo-Caribbean diasporas and the ways in which performance, and specifically Anglophone Caribbean popular music, dance, and embodiment, offer salient archives for descendants of Indian indenture to negotiate, as well as disrupt hetero/homonormative notions of sexual citizenship, desire, identity, and “Pride” in Toronto and New York City.
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Abstract

In the Anglophone Caribbean, nationalist discourses of sexual citizenship are inextricably linked to the afterlife of colonialism and its far-reaching and affective legacies, resonances, and continuities as it reinscribes alterity on the bodies of sexual and gendered “others.” Focusing our optics on the Indo-Caribbean, I explore how archives of chutney music offer disruptive methods, strategies, and praxes of transgression that trouble discourses of “normative” Creole (Afro-Caribbean) and heteronormative nationalisms as “authentic” ideologies of Indo-Caribbean gendering—notably, masculinity. Drawing upon historical genealogies of sexual-sacred erotics found within the Hindu, women-exclusive, pre-wedding Indo-Caribbean tradition of matikor, I interrogate how men artists in chutney music spaces perform what I conceptualize as “qoolie subjectivities,” or distinct embodied languages of self that operate through what I argue are long-standing entanglements of Indo-Caribbeanness and queerness that, when excavated via the body, cultivate critical forms of Indo-Caribbean knowing and living.

 

In this essay, I specifically focus on acts of remaking the pejorative term “coolie” from a grammar of harm to one of reclamation, and agentive potential. Such performances choreograph embodiments of erotic self-making, or “qoolieness,” as methods of pursuing transgressive Indo-Caribbean means of doing nonnormative gender and sexuality, offering us important vocalities that speak through genealogies of (post)indentureship chutney feminisms. My analysis of Indo-Guyanese chutney artist Mystic’s viral song and music video entitled “Coolie Bai” (2014) interrogates how such embodied articulations of qoolieness generate alternative forms of Indo-Caribbean citizenships, masculinities and strategies of remaking the self that move us beyond hegemonic ontological paradigms.

 

Resumen

 

En el Caribe anglófono, los discursos nacionalistas de ciudadanía sexual están inextricablemente vinculados a las secuelas del colonialismo y sus legados, resonancias y continuidades afectivas y de largo alcance, ya que reinscribe la alteridad en los cuerpos de los “otros” sexuales y de género. Centrando nuestra óptica en el Indocaribe, exploro cómo los archivos de la música chutney ofrecen métodos disruptivos, estrategias y praxis de transgresión que problematizan los discursos del creole (afrocaribeño) “normativo” y nacionalismos heteronormativos como ideologías “auténticas” para asignar géneros indocaribeños—en particular, la masculinidad. Basándome en las genealogías históricas de la erótica sexual-sagrada que se encuentra en la tradición hindú del matikor—exclusivamente de mujeres, prenupcial y ya indocaribeña—llego a interrogar cómo los artistas masculinos en los espacios de música chutney realizan lo que conceptualizo como “subjetividades qoolie”, o distintos lenguajes encarnados de uno mismo que operan a través de lo que postulo como entrelazamientos de larga duración del indocaribeñismo y el de ser queer que, cuando se excavan a través del cuerpo, cultivan formas críticas del saber y vivir indocaribeño.

 

En este ensayo, me concentro específicamente en los actos de rehacer el término peyorativo "coolie" de una gramática dañina a otra de reclamo y potencia activa. Tales interpretaciones coreografían las encarnaciones del auto-hacer erótico, o del ser “qoolie”, como métodos de perseguir los medios indocarinbeños transgresores de hacer géneros y sexualidades no normativos, ofreciéndonos importantes vocalidades que hablan a través de genealogías de feminismos chutney después del período histórico del trabajo por contrato no abonado. Mi análisis de la canción viral y video musical del artista de chutney indoguyanés Mystic, titulados "Coolie Bai" (2014), interroga cómo tales articulaciones encarnadas de ser “qoolie” generan formas alternativas de ciudadanías indocaribeñas, masculinidades y estrategias de rehacer el yo que nos mueven más allá de paradigmas ontológicos hegemónicos.

How to Cite: Persadie, R., 2020. “Meh Just Realize I’s Ah Coolie Bai”: Indo-Caribbean Masculinities, Chutney Genealogies, and Qoolie Subjectivities. Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies, 4(2), pp.56–86. DOI: http://doi.org/10.23870/marlas.287
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Published on 27 Dec 2020.
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