Lisa Tomlinson’s new book, The African-Jamaican Aesthetic: Cultural Retention and Transformation Across Borders, adds to the body of research examining the ways in which diasporic African-Jamaican writers create their works by tapping into the cultural aesthetics of their African and Caribbean roots to interpret their place in their new homes and local cultures abroad.
Tomlinson, a researcher and scholar, who teaches at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, in Kingston, Jamaica, explores the writings of Jamaican pioneers, authors Claude McKay and Una Marson, to highlight their ability to draw from the indigenous knowledges around them to counter the Eurocentric focus in literature in the early 1900s.
She also examines the works of dub poets Lillian Allen, Afua Cooper and Adhri Zhina Mandiela in Canada; and Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze and Benjamin Zephaniah in the United Kingdom. Also featured are the writings of novelists Makeda Silvera of Canada and Joan Riley of the UK.
“This study examines the African-Jamaican aesthetic impulse in diasporic dub poetry and fiction, paying particular attention to how these art forms have developed and been mediated in Canadian and British contexts. More specifically, I explore how African-Jamaican cultural productions of the Diaspora are employed as a means of recovering, rearticulating, and remaking cultural identities that have been disrupted by histories of slavery and colonial conquest,” notes Tomlinson in the introduction of the book.
She notes, “My research demonstrates how the cultivation of an African-Jamaican aesthetic plays a key role in inspiring community activism, creating cultural spaces, and forging and sustaining cultural identities in Caribbean Diasporas.”
Referencing the work of Professor George Dei to help provide the context of her research, Tomlinson notes that according to Dei, “indigenous knowledges provide an anti-colonial framework and constitute a kind of ‘knowledge…