The Jamaica Reader

History, Culture, Politics

The Jamaica Reader

The Latin America Readers

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Book Pages: 536 Illustrations: 59 illustrations, incl 11 in color Published: May 2021

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Caribbean Studies, General Interest > Travel

From Miss Lou to Bob Marley and Usain Bolt to Kamala Harris, Jamaica has had an outsized reach in global mainstream culture. Yet many of its most important historical, cultural, and political events and aspects are largely unknown beyond the island. The Jamaica Reader presents a panoramic history of the country, from its precontact indigenous origins to the present. Combining more than one hundred classic and lesser-known texts that include journalism, lyrics, memoir, and poetry, the Reader showcases myriad voices from over the centuries: the earliest published black writer in the English-speaking world; contemporary dancehall artists; Marcus Garvey; and anonymous migrant workers. It illuminates the complexities of Jamaica's past, addressing topics such as resistance to slavery, the modern tourist industry, the realities of urban life, and the struggle to find a national identity following independence in 1962. Throughout, it sketches how its residents and visitors have experienced and shaped its place in the world. Providing an unparalleled look at Jamaica's history, culture, and politics, this volume is an ideal companion for anyone interested in learning about this magnetic and dynamic nation.


“Jamaica is an endless paradox, virtually impossible to summarize neatly in any single document. In The Jamaica Reader, Diana Paton and Matthew Smith extend an invitation to us to reflect on this paradox, its histories, and its cultural-political implications. In their thoughtful and diverse selection of texts (some expressive, some analytical, some narrative), framed by an engaging introduction, they offer a searching panorama of sometimes competing perspectives on the very idea of Jamaica.” — David Scott, Columbia University

“This is a bird's-eye view of the island shaped like a swimming turtle. It is a learned and joyful compendium of everything anyone needs to know about the place Columbus called the fairest isle that eyes ever beheld. Diana Paton and Matthew J. Smith have done a brilliant job of curating what is surely the most complete and all-encompassing gathering of writing about Jamaica ever assembled.” — Lorna Goodison, Poet Laureate of Jamaica


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Diana Paton is William Robertson Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh.

Matthew J. Smith is Professor of History and Director of the Centre for the Study of Legacies of British Slave-Ownership, University College London.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Note on Abridgment  xvii
Acknowledgments  xix
Introduction  1
I. Becoming Jamaica  7
II. From English Conquest to Slave Society  49
III. Enlightenment Slavery  109
IV. Colonial Freedom  159
V. Jamaica Arise  209
VI. Independence and After  289
VII. Jamaica in the Age of Neoliberalism  363
VIII. Jamaicans in the World  435
Suggestions for Further Reading  487
Acknowledgments of Copyrights and Sources  493
Index  503
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1151-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1049-4