Bob Marley: Herald of a Postcolonial World?
In a captivating new book on one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Jason Toynbee at The Open University sheds new light on Bob Marley’s contribution as a musician and public intellectual, how he was granted access to the global media system, and what his music means in cultural and political terms.
'Bob Marley: Herald of a Postcolonial World?’ is released by publishers Polity in October and uncovers the legacy this world icon left not just to music, but to politics, society and humanity. Jason Toynbee is Senior Lecturer in Media Studies in the Department of Sociology at The Open University and admits he has been fascinated by Marley’s legacy. He said: “Bob Marley combined qualities rarely seen together in one person – extraordinary determination, huge creative powers, and a brave and principled commitment to freeing the world from oppression. Still, just because he was so exceptional his life and work have been the subject of myth-making. In this book I try to explore the myths while at the same time locating Bob in the cultural and political tumult of the mid-20th century.”
Tracing Marley’s life and work from Jamaica to the world stage, Toynbee suggests that we need to understand Marley first and foremost as a ‘social author’: “Trained in the co-operative yet also highly competitive musical laboratory of downtown Kingston, Marley went on to translate reggae into a successful international style. His crowning achievement was to mix postcolonial anger and hope with Jamaican textures and beats to produce the first world music.
“However the period since his death has been marked by brutal and intensifying inequality in the capitalist world system. There is an urgent need, then, to reconsider the nature of his legacy. The concluding chapters weigh Marley’s impact as advocate of human emancipation against his marginalisation as a ‘Natural Mystic’ and pretext for disengagement from radical politics.”