About the author: Huon Wardle is a research fellow at Queen’s University in Northern Ireland. He has taught social anthropology at Cambridge, Goldsmith’s College and St. Andrews University.2000 0-7734-7552-4
This ethnography of social life in Kingston, Jamaica, is also a study of the relationship between two major, often conflictive, forces in current cultural experience, community and cosmopolitanism. People from the Caribbean – subject to slavery, the plantation economy, and labor migration – have experienced one of the longest exposures to a global political and economic order of any social grouping. For centuries, Jamaicans have lived at a crossroads of transnational economic social and cultural dynamics. The Jamaican social milieu is characterized by massively heterogeneous and creative cultural activity, violent social fragmentation and individuation, as well as a celebration of the role of geographical mobility in the establishment of personality. A central proposition in this book is that Jamaicans in the capital, Kingston, are still living out the aesthetic and moral consequences and contradictions of the Enlightenment and modernity. The author draws a parallel between Jamaican understandings of the self, and the late philosophy of Immanuel Kant. The ethnographic material presented here, derived from two years fieldwork in Kingston, suggest that Jamaicans understand themselves as global citizens. This sense of self can be identified across multiple contexts – oral performance, music, kinship and friendship, economics and politics. In light of Jamaican cultural experience, the book argues for a reframing of ethnographic practice as an explicitly cosmopolitan cultural practice.