Re/telling History: Sistren's <i>Ida Revolt inna Jonkonnu Stylee</i> as Neo/colonial Resistance


  • Karina Smith Victoria University


women's movement, postcolonial drama, caribbean women's history, antiglobalisation


Sistrenââ¬â¢s collectively devised production, Ida Revolt inna Jonkonnu Stylee (1985), re-tells the history of the 1938 Jamaican labour uprising from the perspective of a woman, Ida Homes, who is rumoured to have thrown the stone that instigated the altercation. The production is multi-layered: firstly, it reclaims Jonkonnu as a performance form for exploring womenââ¬â¢s issues; secondly, it focuses on womenââ¬â¢s experiences of the 1938 riot; and, finally, it draws the audiencesââ¬â¢ attention to economic conditions in 1980s Jamaica. In this article, I will look at the way in which Caribbean performance traditions, such as Jonkonnu and Carnival, are used as ââ¬Åguerilla cultural resistanceââ¬Â, to quote Sylvia Wynter, against the devastating impact of the IMFââ¬â¢s Structural Adjustment Program on Caribbean societies in the 1980s. By basing the play on a creolized performance form that developed during slavery, in conjunction with an historical moment that shaped Jamaican politics, Sistren is using the past to comment, resist and parody new forms of enslavement.

Author Biography

Karina Smith, Victoria University

Karina Smith teaches Literary and Gender Studies at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia. She has published on Sistren's work in internationally refereed journals, such as Kunapipi: A Journal of Postcolonial Writing.