live pon di riddim

Welcome to the site of a wife-mother-sister-scholar whose feminist intersection is decidedly decolonial. I am Isis Semaj-Hall, a dub doctor with a PhD in Caribbean literature. I offer you cultural analysis and provocative thinking. I am Jamaican by birth and New Yorker by maternal right. Caribbeing has defined my immediate past and has sounded my African future.  I create with the consideration that we in the Caribbean thrive in spite of a history of Euro/American dominant models of behavioral discourse and hegemonic thinking. I curate word and sound with the goal of uplifting past, present, and future generations not only to know more, but to know better.

RIDDIM BECAUSE…  Click here to read my blog “write pon di riddim”. The dancehall enthusiast will recognize my reference to the phrase “ride pon di riddim.” As a musical genre that is, amongst other descriptors, invested in contemporality, the rhythm/ riddim becomes the vehicle for an artist/ deejay to maintain relevance and dominance in an ever-expanding marketplace. This is to say that if the dancehall patrons/ massive are taken by a riddim, it is in an artist’s best interest to record lyrics on to that riddim with all immediacy, so that he too becomes a part of the conversation, so to speak. The male dominated field of Jamaican dancehall has heard deejays discuss how they “ride di riddim,” “hitch up pon di riddim,” and even how they have chosen to “siddung pon di riddim” for decades. For this blog I transform the deejay’s microphone into the analyst’s pen to “write pon di riddim.”

ACADEMIC DETAILS… I am a proud Penn Quaker (B.A.) and Maryland Terrapin (M.A. & Ph.D.).  Both my research and my creative practice focus on identity, the digital, sound studies, and gender. I’m always online, but one can find me physically in Kingston, Jamaica where I specialize in Caribbean literature and popular culture as a lecturer in the Department of Literatures in English at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. I have published writing in Caribbean Quarterly, Cultural Dynamics, and Jamaica Journal. You should also check out the work I’m doing as a co-founder and editor of PREE: Caribbean Writing by clicking here.

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All material on this site is a part of my research, is my intellectual property, and may not be reproduced without my permission. These ideas do not represent those of any institutions or organizations to which I belong.

Browse images from various events and symposiums that keep me writing the riddim.

“Goodas fi Dem” discussion at Institute of Jamaica on gender and sexuality in dancehall. (Photo feat. Stacious, me, Pamputtae)
International Women’s Day 2019 keynote lecture at Mary Seacole Hall (UWI Mona)
“Reggae Talk” with Protoje and Lila Ike (February 2019, UWI, Mona)
“Innovative Management: A Creative’s Core Team,” February Instagram Live event for Indiggo Conference in Kingston, Jamaica (Carleene Samuels, me, Sean Castle, Jamila Pinto, Tara Playfair
Kingston Creative panel on Jamaican Literature. (Photo’ed with amazing Jamaican book bloggers @rebelwomenlit & @ifthisisparadise)
Spice shared this pic from the “All Angles” television panel discussion on her poignant song “Black Hypocrisy” (Riddim Writer at center, October 2019)
Moderating the “Women in Music: The Jamaica Case” for Reggae Sumfest Symposium, July 2019. Panelists included Coleen Douglas, Cherine Anderson, Claudette Kemp, and Nadine Sutherland.

Below is a short-list of some of my recent and upcoming events.

  • July 2019 – “Women in Music: The Jamaica Case,” Reggae Sumfest Symposium, UWI, Mona, Jamaica.
  • June 2019 – 11th Annual Maroon Conference, Charlestown, Portland, Jamaica.
  • June 2019 – International Autobiography Association invited to present for emerging scholars.
  • April 2019 – Kingston Creative, Panelist on Jamaican writing, Kingston, Jamaica.
  • March 2019 – International Women’s Day invited to deliver Keynote Lecture, Mary Seacole Hall, UWI, Mona, Jamaica.
  • February 2019 – “Goodas fi Dem” reggae month panel on women in dancehall, Institute of Jamaica, Kingston, Jamaica.
  • December 2018 – Caribbean Digital Conference, Port of Spain, Trinidad.
  • October 2018 – West Indian Literature Conference, Miami, Florida, USA.
  • June 2018 – Calabash International Literary Festival, Treasure Beach, Jamaica.
  • April 2018 – Pop Music Conference, Museum of Popular Culture, Seattle, USA.
  • April 2018 – “From Black Power to Black Panther to Afro-Furturism: A Critical Review of the Movie”, UWI, Mona, Jamaica.
  • March 2018 – “Future Sounds: Talking Reggae with Lila Ike, Koffee, Gussie Clarke, and Kevy the Artist”, Reggae Talks, UWI, Mona, Jamaica.
  • March 2018 – “So Many Islands”, Book Launch, Bookophilia, Kingston, Jamaica.
  • November 2017- Imagine Kingston Conference, UWI, Mona, Jamaica.
  • October 2017- West Indian Literature Conference, Port of Spain, Trinidad.
  • June 2017 – The 9th Annual International Maroon Conference, Charles Town, Jamaica.
  • February 2017- Global Reggae Conference: Dancehall, Music and the City, UWI, Mona, Jamaica
  • January 2017- Beyond Homophobia: Centring LGBT Experiences in the Caribbean, UWI, Mona, Jamaica
  • October 2016- West Indian Literature Conference, Montego Bay, Jamaica
  • June 2016- The 8th Annual International Maroon Conference, Charles Town, Jamaica
  • June 2016- Caribbean Studies Association (CSA) annual conference, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
  • March 2016- Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) annual conference, Connecticut, USA