Sound system culture: Place, space and identity in the United Kingdom, 1960-1989

Paul Ward

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    By exploring the experience of the industrial town of Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, where the West Indian population contributed to sound system and reggae culture out of proportion to its size, it can be shown that sound system culture developed differently in different urban contexts in Britain in the late twentieth century. The essay uses more than thirty oral history interviews of people who ran sound systems or were audiences for them. They were collected by the Sound System Culture project initiated by Let’s Go Yorkshire, which focuses on aspects of local cultural heritage hidden from and unrecorded by mainstream history. Their project provides an opportunity to explore questions of identity in relation to sound systems, reggae and urban Britain with a focus on a specific place and its configurations of space. The essay examines the importance of the location of a West Indian club in the town centre, enabling the African-Caribbean population to visibly and aurally contribute to the Huddersfield’s sense of its own identity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)349-376
    Number of pages28
    JournalHistoria Contemporánea
    Issue number57
    Early online date18 Jun 2018
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jun 2018


    • Reggae
    • sound systems
    • immigration
    • Black British history
    • Black british history
    • Immigration
    • Sound systems


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