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Liverpool writes 'defining' book on Carnival

By Julien Neaves

ACADEMIC studies of Carnival show it is much more than a time for "alcoholism" and "debauchery", says Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim.

He was speaking on Wednesday at the launch of the book, Rituals of Power and Rebellion: The Carnival Tradition in Trinidad and Tobago 1763-1962, by scholar and calysponian Hollis "Chalkdust" Liverpool at the John S Donaldson University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) Port of Spain campus. Liverpool is also programme professor at the UTT Academy of Arts, Culture and Public Affairs.

He said the book has been hailed internationally by academics as being "the defining opus on the development of Carnival".

UTT provost and acting president Dr Fazal Ali said in the book Liverpool pulled together from primary sources to create a compelling and original collage about Carnival, and predicted that other scholars in the future will use this text as a "pivot".

Karim noted that Liverpool's study of Carnival was a continuation of the work by academics such as Prof Gordon Rohlehr and Dr Jeff Henry and the late Dr JD Elder and Prof Errol Hill.

UTT deputy chairman Kwasi Mutema recommended all Trinidadians read the book written by the "cultural icon".

"I therefore applaud Prof Liverpool for his determination and, most importantly, his commitment to the cultural landscape of our nation," he said.

Liverpool recalled that when he asked UWI to do his doctorate in Carnival, he was told they did not have the resources and he instead did it in Michigan among "white professors". He stressed that for Carnival to be accepted at the level of international universities they needed a PhD dissertation.

He added to his extensive research oral histories, including his experiences with calypsonians such as Cypher and Spitfire, and with the "old bards" like Winston "Spree" Simon, George Goddard and others.

Karim asked UTT to support a possible second volume from 1962 to the present.

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