They Do As They Please

The Jamaican Struggle for Cultural Freedom after Morant Bay
Brian L. Moore, Michele A. Johnson

Pages and Dimensions: 
620pp 6 x 9



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US$70 (s)


This book is a companion to Neither Led nor Driven, published in 2004. It examines the secular aspects of culture in Jamaica, namely, material culture (architecture and home furnishings, dress, and food), rites of passage, language and oral culture, creative and performance arts, popular entertainment, sports and games, social clubs and fraternities, and the issues of drinking and gambling. It also examines the lifestyle cultures of Indian and Chinese
immigrants who were new arrivals in Jamaica.

The book argues that although a vibrant and fully functional creole culture existed in Jamaica, after Morant Bay, diverse elements within the upper and middle classes (the cultural elites) formed a coalition to eradicate that “barbaric” culture which they believed had contributed to the uprising, and to replace it with “superior” cultural items imported from Victorian Britain in order to “civilize” and anglicize the people. It reinforces the prime thesis of Neither Led nor
Driven that the lower classes, the main targets of this campaign, drew on their own Afro-Creole cultural heritage to resist and ignore the new elite cultural agenda; but they did selectively embrace some aspects of the imported Victorian culture which they creolized to fit their own cultural matrix. Ultimately, the cultural elite efforts at “reform” were hampered by their own ambivalence, hypocrisy and disunity, and they actually impeded the sponsored process of anglicization. This book advances our understanding of the concept and process of creolization. It extends the pioneering work of Kamau Brathwaite and reassesses the theories of other scholars, particularly Richard Burton and Nigel Bolland.

The data are primary archival and contemporary library resources housed mainly in Jamaica and the United Kingdom. The authors’ meticulous analysis of official reports, newspapers, religious denomination reports, private papers and published accounts has produced a work that illuminates the complex and still under-explored period of Jamaica’s history as the society entered new phases of “modernity”. “A marvellous example of social history at its best.” – Franklin W. Knight, Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Professor of History, Johns Hopkins University Brian L. Moore is John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of History and Africana and Latin American Studies, Colgate University, and he has taught at universities in Jamaica and Guyana. He is the award-winning author or editor of more than eight scholarly books, several chapters in edited books, and articles in the Journal of Caribbean History, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Boletin de Estudios Lationamerican y del Caribe, Bulletin of Eastern Caribbean Affairs, Immigrants and Minorities, Guyana Historical Journal, and Jamaica Historical Review. In addition to his distinguished teaching and publishing career, he has served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Guyana, and was a diplomatic representative to the United Nations General Assembly and Great Britain.

Michele A. Johnson is Associate Professor, Department of History, York University, Canada, and she has taught at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. She is the awardwinning author or editor of several scholarly books and has published extensively in scholarly journals. She received the Dean’s Award for Teaching, Faculty of Arts, York University, in 2004–2005.