Orlando Patterson's classic study of slavery in Jamaica reveals slavery for what it was: a highly repressive and destructive syst...
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Orlando Patterson's classic study of slavery in Jamaica reveals slavery for what it was: a highly repressive and destructive system of human exploitation, which disregarded and distorted almost all of the basic prerequisites of normal social life. What distinguishes Patterson's account is his detailed description of the lives and culture of slaves under this repressive regime. He analyses the conditions of slave life and work on the plantations, the psychological life of slaves and the patterns and meanings of life and death. He shows that the real-life situation of slaves and enslavers involved a complete breakdown of all major social institutions, including the family, gender relations, religion, trust and morality. And yet, despite the repressiveness and protracted genocide of the regime, slaves maintained some space of their own, and their forced adjustment to white norms did not mean that they accepted them. Slave culture was characterized by a persistent sense of resentment and injustice, which underpinned the day-to-day resistance and large-scale rebellions that were a constant feature of slave society, the last and greatest of which partly accounts for its abolition.
This second edition includes a new introduction by Orlando Patterson, which explains the origins of the book, appraises subsequent works on Jamaican slavery, and reflects on its enduring relevance. Widely recognized as a foundational work on the social institution of slavery, this book is an essential text for anyone interested in the role of slavery in shaping the modern world.
Orlando Patterson is John Cowles Professor of Sociology at Harvard University and Chair of the Jamaica Education Transformation Commission at the Office of the Prime Minister of Jamaica.