« Previous | of | Next »

African Guyanese kweh-kweh ritual performance: Triculturalism, rediasporization, and the negotiation of identities in Guyana and New York

Black Caribbean Literature (BCL)
Richards-Greaves,Gillian (Author)
Publication Date:
Bloomington, IN: Indiana University
African American Research Center, Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject Term:
Caribbean area, Blacks, Guyana, African diaspora, New York (City), Ritual, Identity, Kweh-kweh, Rediasporization, Triculturalism, Emigration and immigration, Cultural anthropology
322 p., Kweh-kweh is an African Guyanese pre-wedding ritual system that emerged among African slaves in Guyana and historically functioned as a medium for music-centered matrimonial instruction for soon-to-be-married couples. The ritual is executed on the eve of a wedding ceremony and encompasses music, dance, proverbial speech, and a plethora of ritual practices that allow participants to chide, praise, and instruct the bride and groom and their nations (relatives, friends, and representatives) on matters of marriage. However, kweh-kweh performances also reveal embedded values of the Guyanese community, such as what it means to be a "real man" or a "proper woman." African Guyanese hold conflicting views on kweh-kweh, but at the onset of a wedding, they devise ways to celebrate kweh-kweh, a "pagan" ritual they also regard "our culture." This work demonstrates how African Guyanese manipulate the kweh-kweh ritual, their religious values, and themselves to articulate the complex of their identities, particularly racial and gendered identities.