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“Weak Become Heroes”: The Alternative Public Culture of UK Garage in Nine Tracks

Rashayla Marie Brown

The abstract compositions of British garage music in the past few years represent what Paul Gilroy calls in The Black Atlantic “the identity and non-identity of black cultures” in Britain. With meanings of “blackness” developed abroad as well as with the denial of locally assigned cultural markers, many garage artists negotiate the transcendent notion of a universal human experience with the constant of cultural exchange that has existed for centuries in London. The aim of my research is to unearth the current debates surrounding the decline of an essential “black” identity, by combining a cultural study of black-identified music in London with theory grounded in the “public sphere” concept.

As a DJ and an academic, my vast knowledge of lesser-known musics and a foundation in sociological ethnographical analysis will provide a better focus on the more current trends of anti-identity in black cultural studies. In order to be most effective here and in my ultimate goal of publication, it is necessary that I become further immersed in scholarly dialogue on the current state of black European studies.

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