The Catalyst team met with Shaquiera Hamilton to discuss her upcoming article “Reimagining Jamaican Black National Identity Through the Voices of the Dispossessed: A Counter-Hegemonic Movement” in the upcoming Spring 2021 edition of Chrysalis. Her paper explores the colonial cultural narratives employed to enforce Black inferiority in post-independence Jamaica, and how Black Jamaican music is used a tool to challenge these oppressive systems.
Shaquiera is a fourth-year student completing a major in International Development and a double minor in Psychology and Gender, Sexuality, Feminism and Social Justice. Throughout her time at McGill she has been involved in various clubs and is now an employee for QPIRG-McGill and McGill’s Teaching and Learning Services.
She was originally born in Toronto but has lived in a variety of places throughout her life including Jamaica where her mother is from. Her Caribbean culture and experiences greatly influenced her paper. Shaquiera wrote her article for a course in the department of Canadian Studies called “Canada and the Caribbean: Politics, Exile and Black Diaspora”. This was a class she greatly enjoyed because it gave her a rare opportunity to explore her culture more in an academic setting.
Shaquiera’s decision to write about reggae, dancehall and Jamaican nationalism resulted from a conversation she had with her mother about Jamaica and its history. As Shaquiera listened to the music of her childhood again she began to understand the lyrics in a new way. Jamaican music reveals the historical experience of the masses, and it highlights the contemporary situation of the nation, ideas she wanted to explore further.
Throughout her McGill career Shaquiera has discovered her passion for learning about and advocating for the empowerment of her Black community. Upon graduation, Shaquiera hopes to eventually pursue a PhD degree in critical race studies and continue learning about the Black diaspora.
Video edited by Sena Lee.
Read the Spring 2021 issue of Chrysalis here.