Work of the Fellows: Edited Volumes

The Jamaica Reader: History, Culture, Politics

Edited by Matthew J. Smith (NHC Fellow, 2018–19), and Diana Paton

Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2021

From the publisher's 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.


Subjects: History; Cultural History; Political History