The digitized version of the Jamaica Journal Historical Collection online was launched on Sunday (Nov. 15) at the Green Library of the Florida International University (FIU), Miami. The journal, one of the Caribbean’s leading cultural publications, is now celebrating its 40 year anniversary with 32 volumes. The Journal, which began publication in 1967, has covered a broad range of topics including history, literature, science and environment, and the arts. “Making the entire collection available online, will increase the awareness of the Journal’s historical and continued importance in documenting Jamaican heritage, culture and environment” according to Brooke Wooldridge of the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) of the University, one of the collaborating agencies.
Professor Barry Chevannes, Chairman of the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) speaking at Reception to celebrate the historical launch said that the “digitization of the Jamaica Journal will mean a de-locking of the document from its imprisonment in time and space and releasing it to a readership and research community that has the potential to be as wide as cyberspace is wide.” Describing the Journal as one of Jamaica’s most cherished products, Professor Chevannes said that the publication was a “window into the life of the Jamaican people.” It was founded in 1967 by former Prime Minister Edward Seaga who at the time was doing anthropological fieldwork among the rural and urban folk. He added that Mr. Seaga’s fascination with the beauty and cosmological sophistication of the Revival religion, led him to compose a poem titled “River Mumma” which he entered into the Festival competition under an assumed name, earning a gold medal.
As there was no outlet to publish the poem at the time, Mr. Seaga suggested that the Institute start a publication to showcase the works of writers and scholars on Jamaican and Caribbean culture. “River Mumma” was printed in the third volume in 1969. Since then, the issues continue to carry articles on the practices of the daily life of the Jamaican people, “providing snapshots of a people in a rapidly changing cultural life” according to Professor Chevannes.
Professor Chevannes spoke of the challenges of sustaining the Journal – the struggle to be relevant and cost-effective at the same time. He commended the expertise of the editor, Dr. Kim Robinson, a literary critic and writer. The more widely known the Journal is in cyberspace, the more interest it will create in ownership of copies while producing new subscribers he said. As he encouraged support from the Jamaican Diaspora, Professor Chevannes felt that the exhibited pages would evoke reminiscences of an ancestral homeland as nationals identified with the sights captured.
Jamaica’s Consul General Sandra Grant Griffiths also echoed sentiments on the historical launch of the Jamaica Journal noting that the publication has helped shaped our nation and would continue to impact through the march of history preserving and increasing access to Jamaican material on the socio-cultural and political importance.
For the complete report go to http://sflcn.com/story.php?id=7458