Music, Memory and Migration: Commemorating the BUMIDOM in Contemporary Music
In the past fifteen years, there has been a plethora of artists of Caribbean origin (living both in the French Antilles and mainland France) who have produced songs about the BUMIDOM. The Bureau pour le développement des migrations dans les départements d’outre-mer was an organised migration scheme which, between 1963 and 1982, brought some 160,000 people from Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion, and French Guiana to work in mainland France. These tracks have been produced in a range of musical styles and genres; some are inspired by Caribbean traditions of gwoka, zouk, and Creole jazz, while others tap into different styles such as rap and hip-hop. Some of these tracks are individual songs about migration in an artist’s corpus which addresses wider social issues, such as in the case of Kalme La Fournaise, who sings about broader inequalities between mainland France and the overseas departments. Others, meanwhile, including those produced by the bands Soft and Delgres, are part of a more substantial contribution about the BUMIDOM and its legacy. What these musicians have in common, though, is their commitment to preserve and transmit memories of the BUMIDOM, passed down to them from their family, through their music. This presentation explores the mechanisms through which this memory work occurs in contemporary music emerging from France and the French Caribbean.
Dr Antonia Wimbush is Lecturer in French Studies at the University of Melbourne. From 2020 to 2023 she was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Liverpool, where she investigated cultural responses to post-war migration from the French Caribbean to mainland France. Her first monograph, Autofiction: A Female Francophone Aesthetic of Exile, was published by Liverpool University Press in 2021. Other research interests include gender, sexuality, and bodily experiences, and in 2021 she co-edited Queer(y)ing Bodily Norms in Francophone Culture, published with Peter Lang.