Shaneequa Castle

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“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13 Keeping this in mind has lead me from Upper Marlboro, MD—my hometown—to St. Lawrence University in New York, University of West Indies in Trinidad, Jamaica, Boston, South Africa, and now Miami to pursue various life changing opportunities. In May of 2013 I graduated from St. Lawrence University with a bachelors in PCA (Performance and Communication Arts) as a McNair scholar and Founder of a campus based Non-Profit, H.O.P.E. (Helping Out People Everywhere). While at St. Lawrence, I also had the privilege of studying abroad during my junior year at the University of West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad where I conducted research on the taboo racial tensions between East Indians and Africans. The following summer I was awarded the Tanner Fellowship, which provided funding for me to do research in Kingston, Jamaica on the silenced opinions of dancehall patrons. I interviewed musicians, dancers, patrons, and scholars about the less reported positive aspects of the popular music form, dance style, and subculture. I complied the interviews and information gathered during my McNair fellowship to create a documentary titled “Yuh Understand or Yuh Ovastand?” I also reported my findings through lectures at St. Lawrence and Florida International University as well as at conferences such as the Annual McNair Conference in Buffalo, New York and the Eastern Sociological Society Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

More recently I had the privilege of traveling to South Africa where I taught at a Moravian school in Hout Bay and simultaneously documented my experience being in Africa for the first time using autoethnographic methods. Currently I am working on my masters in the African and African Diaspora studies program as a teaching assistant and I anticipate graduating in May. My next plan is applying to doctoral programs in anthropology where I can continue my research. The focus of my research is to explore the relationship between the state and popular culture in Jamaica. Considering the longstanding feud between the state and dancehall patrons in Jamaica I am looking at theories on popular culture, nation building, respectability and the postcolonial state in order to find the source of the Jamaican government’s anxiety towards this subculture that simultaneously causes embarrassment and benefits the country. My ultimate goal after completing my doctoral degree is teaching at the university level and expanding my non-profit into a center in order to help people use their talents to pursue their dreams and give back to others in need.