Reggae Transformations: How Reggae transformed British culture

Damien Marley playing in Portsmouth
Dr Kenny Monrose
Where Gatsby Room, Chancellor's Centre

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE VENUE FOR THIS EVENT HAS CHANGED. IT WILL NOW BE HELD IN THE Gatsby Room. Reggae has both enhanced and  influenced the development of contemporary genres of music. However what is often ignored is the transformative effect that Reggae has had on British culture. This event brings together leading scholars to share their knowledge and experience of Reggae music.

Damien Marley playing in Portsmouth

Reggae Transformations will discuss matters relevant to popular culture, artistic performance, race and citizenship. This will be in keeping with Wolfson’s transformations initiative, and in line with the colleges long established ethos of diversity and inclusion. This promises to be an exciting and engaging event for academics and non-academics alike.


15.00-15.15 Opening remarks

Professor Jane Clarke, President of Wolfson College
Dr Kenny Monrose, Visiting College Research Associate, Wolfson College

15.15-15.45 Thoughts on the Windrush Generations: the Black contribution to the British experience

Professor William 'Lez' HenryUniversity of West London

In this highly interactive talk, Lez will take you on an audio visual journey of the Black experience in Britain, since the arrival from the Caribbean of the Empire Windrush in 1948. He will highlight many of the hidden struggles of Black people in the UK for equal rights and social justice, including the recent very public scandals that have shamed this Government by exposing how they use their whiteness to militate against African/Black people. He will also provide examples detailing the impact of black contributions to what is now regarded as contemporary British lifestyles and culture, beyond the realms of entertainment and fashion.

15.45-16.15 How reggae sound systems invented club culture

Dr Caspar Melville, SOAS University of London 

From acid house to jungle, grime to the new jazz UK club culture has been widely celebrated as a vital component of the UK creative economy and the soundtrack of Britain's multicultural cities. Often missing is the recognition that none of this would have been possible without reggae sound systems, which pioneered bass culture, provided the model for club culture and gave a voice to black British experience.    

16.15-16.30 Break
16.30-17.00 Reggae Walks: Street ethnography in southeast London

Professor Les Back, Goldsmiths College, University of London   

How Reggae music created an alternative public space within a politically hostile period of British history. 

17.00-17.30 Reggae Theatrics: Dub poetry, Words, Sound, Power and Resistance

Dr Martin Glynn, Birmingham City University     

Dub poetry as a vehicle for transmitting key messages regarding the struggle for social and racial justice, had a brief but significant impact upon the black community in the late 70s and early 80s. A new questioning and positioning regarding the contemporary place of dub poetry in today's social media world needs to be explored          

17.30-18.00 Q&A

Dr Richard Bramwell, College Research Associate, Wolfson College

18.00-18.15 Closing Remarks


Organised by Dr Kenny Monrose    

Kenny is an affiliated researcher at the University of Cambridge in the department of Sociology, a Visiting College Research Associate at Wolfson college, and a Lecturer in Criminology & Criminal Justice. His current research examines the ways in which music of Caribbean influence has incited the development of sub-cultures in Britain, and are commonly incubated within specific socio-political contexts. Kenny is the author of Black men in Britain: an ethnographic portrait of the post-Windrush generation, will be published by Routledge in October 2019.

Chaired by Dr Richard Bramwell

Richard is a College Research Associate, Wolfson College and a lecturer in Media & Communications Studies at Loughborough University. Richard's research interests are primarily focused around the areas of black British vernacular and popular cultures. 

Professor Les Back

Les is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre of Urban and Community Research at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His work focuses on the issues of race, racism and popular culture discussed within ethnographic research. He is the author of the Academic Diary: or why higher education still matters.

Professor  William 'Lez' Henry. 

Lez is a Professor of Law & Criminology at the University of West London and is renowned as a public speaker. He has lectured nationally and internationally on behalf of various public and private institutions and has featured in numerous documentaries and current affairs television and radio programmes and has written and published extensively on many of the concerns of the African Diaspora in the UK.

Dr Caspar Melville

Caspar Melville is lecturer at SOAS, University of London where he convenes the MA in Global Creative & Cultural Industries and is co-chair of the Centre for Creative Industries, Media and Screen Studies. Formerly he was  editor of New Humanist magazine, a music journalist and DJ. His history of the capital's club culture, It's a London Thing: How rare groove, acid house and jungle remapped the city will be published in November 2019 by Manchester University Press. 

Dr Martin Glynn

Dr Glynn is currently a lecturer in criminology and black studies at Birmingham City University and internationally renowned criminologist, educator, theatre director, and dramatist with over 35 years’ experience of working in criminal justice, public health, and educational settings. His new book Speaking Data and Telling Stories: Data Verbalization for Researchers’ is published by Routledge (2019) alongside being the founder member of ALGORHYTHM: Data Storytelling Lab. Dr Glynn has now been appointed a visiting research fellow at the University of the West Indies and the National Justice museum in Nottingham.