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Title: The politics of popular music and youth culture in 21st-century Mauritius and Réunion
Author: Bremner, Natalia Katherine
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 6927
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis examines the politics of popular music and youth culture in two geographically close but socioculturally distinct Indian Ocean islands: Réunion (a French overseas département) and Mauritius (independent from Britain since 1968). Neither island has an indigenous, pre-colonial population: the respective societies have thus formed through successive waves of immigration, including the importation of slaves and indentured workers from Madagascar, Africa, and Asia, resulting in extremely ethnically diverse populations, on both a communal and individual level. The island societies both began the twentieth century as sugar-producing plantation colonies, but by the beginning of the twenty-first century, their socioeconomic landscapes had been dramatically transformed: independent Mauritius was proclaimed as an ‘African tiger’ thanks to astute state management of limited resources, and Réunion became a French département d’outre-mer, with living standards now similar to those of metropolitan France. Although both island societies experienced dramatic and rapid transformation, however, modern-day Réunion and Mauritius have come to represent opposing postcolonial experiences. This has resulted in the adoption of opposing approaches to the question of ethnic and racial difference: whereas the Mauritian Constitution officially acknowledges the existence of ethnoreligious ‘communities’, ethnic difference is not officially recognised in Réunion due to colour-blind French Republican policy. The following analysis seeks to show that the study of contemporary popular culture can provide particular insights into the workings of these two creolised, postcolonial societies. Considered here principally through the lens of popular music and youth culture, it will be argued that contemporary Réunionese and Mauritian popular music and youth cultures engage with political and social issues specific to each context. This is discussed in Part II in relation to Kreol language politics, which shows that popular music can be said to work towards changing mentalities still influenced by colonial language prejudices; and in Part III as concerns popular culture’s engagement with discourses of inclusion and exclusion within the national community.
Supervisor: Stafford, Andy Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available