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James, Caspar

James, Caspar

musicologist and classical singer with an MA in Religious Studies @ Independent


Caspar James is a musicologist and classical singer with an MA in Religious Studies. He is based in Paris and has a particular interest in the music and traditions of the Caribbean. He conducted research in the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Haiti in 2006 and 2010.

Geographical location : Paris, France

Research Area and Interest : music and traditions of the Caribbean

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Feeling the Folk


Mummies and Masquerades: English and Caribbean Connections
Summary: The English mumming play tradition originated in chapbook texts adopted by various seasonal folk traditions. Children's author Juliana Horatia Ewing published a bawdlerised version of the tradition that she encountered in Ecclesfield in 1884 and this text found its way to St Kitts & Nevis in the Caribbean, where it was it was taken up enthusiastically by the black population as one of its Christmas Sports. The Mummies continue to act (and dance) to this day. Economic migrants took the Christmas Sports in turn to the Dominican Republic, in particular around the town of San Pedro de Macoris, where the performers recently gained a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Award. Peter Millington's extensive research found the link through textual analysis of the Ewing text and the text as performed in the Caribbean. He was then introduced by Caspar James to film of the last Mummies performer in the Dominican Republic, filmed by Peyi Guzman, who confirms this connection between folk traditions on both sides of the Atlantic.

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