Forthcoming book: “The Jamaica Reader: History, Culture, Politics”

[Many Thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] The Jamaica Reader, edited by Diana Paton and Matthew Smith, will be published this spring by Duke University Press (May 2021). David Scott, Columbia University describes the collection: “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.”

Description: 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.

The Jamaica Reader: History, Culture, Politics
Diana Paton and Matthew J. Smith (Eds.)
Duke University Press, May 2021
536 pages
ISBN 978-1-4780-1151-4 (pb),  978-1-4780-1049-4 (hc)
For more information, see


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