Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Alfred J. Lopez

Committee Member 1

Shaun F. D. Hughes

Committee Member 2

Aparijita Sagar

Committee Member 3

Marlo D. David


Soca’s music history negatively impacts female soca artists, especially when taking into account each island’s differing Carnival music history. Contrary to popular assumptions, soca (as well as calypso) did not develop similarly in every Caribbean island. Soca actually exemplifies a pan-Caribbean phenomenon that is regionally as well as gender specific. St. Lucia illustrates this phenomenon as it has a markedly different calypso history from Trinidad, which has long been called the land of calypso, and more recently the land of soca. I use St. Lucia as a departure point from which to dismantle the overarching Trinidadian narrative that many, including St. Lucians, have co-opted in an effort to foster Caribbean unity and global brand recognition. Specifically, I explore the intersections of soca, women, and neoliberalism through an historical analysis of St. Lucian Carnival music history and the songs of three female soca artists. Performing this kind of analysis is especially relevant in a global moment where Trinidad-style Carnival, musicians, and Carnival products are available in most large metropolitan cities. And, although the field of Carnival musics is filled with discussions on calypso and women in calypso, few scholars explore the intersections of soca, women, and neoliberalism, with the notable exception of Canadian Jocelyne Guilbault. This silence of a scholarly group known for vibrant discussions and analysis of Caribbean life is palpable. Into this silence, I voice an intersectional conversation on soca, a genre that is rapidly becoming the sound and image of what ‘being Caribbean’ means, even as those images play into problematic stereotypes of the Black Caribbean female that traces its roots to slavery and our colonial past.