A Discussion on Jamaica’s Strengths and Weaknesses

JNA’s June Meeting will feature a spirited discussion on the cultural “paradoxes” in Orlando Patterson’s recent book, The Confounding Island: Jamaica and the Post-Colonial Predicament. Here is an excerpt from a review of this book:

“Orlando Patterson returns to Jamaica, his birthplace, to reckon with its history and culture. Locals claim to be some of the world’s happiest people, and their successes in music and athletics are legendary. Yet the country remains violent and poor…”

Dr. Franklin Knight, PhD, a distinguished historian and a Member of JNA’s Advisory Council and historian of Latin America and the Caribbean will moderate this discussion. He is an emeritus professor at Johns Hopkins University where he was the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Professor of History from 1993 – 2014 and director of the Centre for Africana Studies. He was awarded a Gold Musgrave Medal for literature in 2013.

To prepare for the discussion, Dr. Noel Godfrey , JNA’s Vice President, encourages you to read this book, or writings by other authors on many of the cultural puzzles tackled by Patterson. What are these puzzles? Why is democratic Jamaica so violent? Why do policies to help the poor so often fail? Why has Jamaica trailed Barbados on the path to sustained growth? Why are Jamaicans the fastest runners in the world? You might also want to watch Patterson’s discussions on YouTube.

Plan to attend and participate. What points would you like to discuss? What are your observations? How can we make a difference?

Franklin W. Knight, PhD

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