Founders College event series honours the late Professor Christopher Innes

Christopher Innes
Christopher Innes

From Sept. 26 to 28, Founders College is hosting an event series titled “Calypso, Carnival, Steel Band: Expressive Cultures of the Caribbean Diaspora” in honour of the late York University Professor Christopher Innes, whose contributions to the study of carnival have been inspirational to the event organizers and participants alike.

In collaboration with the Toronto Mass Bands Association, the Organization of Calypso Performing Artists, the Ontario Steelpan Association and the organizers of the Notting Hill Carnival in the U.K., the Founders College event series will feature scholarly discussions and panels, steel band and calypso concerts, various daytime activities and multimedia exhibitions. The participants include academics, performers and community activists drawn from a variety of Caribbean diaspora locations.

All are welcome to participate in these events and explore the cultural art forms that have captivated the Caribbean, Canada, the U.S., Central America and England. All events will take place in the Founders College Assembly Hall, Keele Campus. The daytime activities will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the live performances will begin at 7 p.m.

Founders College Calypso event
Two carnival dancers posing for a selfie. Photo by Quinten de Graaf on Unsplash

Trinidad’s Carnival has inspired expansion throughout the Caribbean diaspora, as evidenced by other city’s celebrations like London’s Notting Hill, Costa Rica’s Cahuita, New York’s West Indian Labor Day and Toronto’s Caribana. The Trinidadian influence on these festivals is seen through the expressive cultures of calypso, mas and steel band. This carnival tradition represents the cultural and political health of various Caribbean communities as they challenge the state in their various diasporan locations.

Event attendees will learn about the origins, achievements and the current state of calypso, carnival and steel band in a global context during the event’s panel discussions. The aim of the discussions is to create a dialogue on the major influences in the development of carnival in different diasporic locations, the various ways the public has been involved in carnival expression, government authorities’ responses to the spontaneity of carnival, and the ways calypso music has influenced community and identity.

Following the daily panel discussions, stick around for three evening concerts by calypsonians Alexander D. Great from London, U.K., and Manuel Montesel from Costa Rica.

For more information on this event series, visit the Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean event page.