Abstract

“Why must all girls want to be flag women?” laments one critic regarding what he sees as the infiltration of “Carnival” culture into the performative desires of Indo-Trinidadian women. The intersections of soca, a form of music derived from the traditional Carnival genre of calypso, and chutney soca, as an Indo-Trinidadian-identified form with roots in traditional South Asian music as well as Carnival cultures, is a particular arena of visibility—and controversy—for critically including Indo-Trinidadian “flag” women in a feminist framework. In this essay, I read these Carnival-related performances in relationship to the colonial and national histories of the circulation of Indian and black women's bodies in Trinidad and Tobago, asking what is at stake in these occupations of genre, form, and performative presence in the latest global scenes of late capitalism (where image and sound, as cultural productions, are always in circulation beyond the scope of the nation, and their own “original” referents).

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