The Confounding Island: Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament

The Confounding Island: Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament

by Orlando Patterson

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Overview

The preeminent sociologist and National Book Award–winning author of Freedom in the Making of Western Culture grapples with the paradox of his homeland: its remarkable achievements amid continuing struggles since independence.

There are few places more puzzling than Jamaica. Jamaicans claim their home has more churches per square mile than any other country, yet it is one of the most murderous nations in the world. Its reggae superstars and celebrity sprinters outshine musicians and athletes in countries hundreds of times its size. Jamaica’s economy is anemic and too many of its people impoverished, yet they are, according to international surveys, some of the happiest on earth. In The Confounding Island, Orlando Patterson returns to the place of his birth to reckon with its history and culture.

Patterson investigates the failures of Jamaica’s postcolonial democracy, exploring why the country has been unable to achieve broad economic growth and why its free elections and stable government have been unable to address violence and poverty. He takes us inside the island’s passion for cricket and the unparalleled international success of its local musical traditions. He offers a fresh answer to a question that has bedeviled sports fans: Why are Jamaican runners so fast?

Jamaica’s successes and struggles expose something fundamental about the world we live in. If we look closely at the Jamaican example, we see the central dilemmas of globalization, economic development, poverty reduction, and postcolonial politics thrown into stark relief.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674988057
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 11/12/2019
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 244,230
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Orlando Patterson is John Cowles Professor of Sociology at Harvard University; the author of Freedom in the Making of Western Culture, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, and Slavery and Social Death (Harvard); and the editor of The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth (Harvard), for which he was awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Lifetime Achievement. His work has been honored by the American Sociological Association and the American Political Science Association, among others, and he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served as Special Advisor for Social Policy and Development to Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley and was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Government of Jamaica.

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