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    Back Cover
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Full Text

Vl. 47*. 4

I- Si *

m' /


(Copyright reserved and reproduction without permission forbidden.)

Churches and the State: Aspects of Religious Ideology in colonial and 1
Post-Colonial Jamaica
Diane J. Austin-Broos
Tracking a Tradition: Kamau Brathwaite and the Bajan Hardcore 33
Curwen Best
The Greatness Thrust Upon Eric Williams 49
The Issues of Opression a Political Stance in the Poetry of Two 58
Jamaican Women Writers (Lorna Goodison and Elean Thomas)
Anne Maria Bankay
The United States andHaiti: A Exercise inlntervention 71
Judson Jeffries
Book Lists 95
Instructions to Contributors 99


Editorial Committee
The Hon.Rex NettlefordO.M. Vice Chancellor, Editor
Professor K. Hall, Principal, Mona Campus
Sir Keith Hunte, Principal, Cave Hill Campus
Dr. B. Tewari, Principal, St. Augustine Campus
Sir Roy Augier, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of History, Mona
Professor N. McMorris, Dept. of Physics, Mona
Dr. V Salter, CSI, Vice Chancellery, Mona (Managing Editor)

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itor, Caribbean Quarterly, Cultural Studies Initiative, Vice Chancellery, UWI,
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request. The journal is abstracted by AES and indexed by HAPI.

Caribbean Quarterly, Volume 47, No. 4, 2001, contains five articles of
diverse interest but all truly Caribbean in scope. The topics themselves are
guaranteed to be controversial, touching on the following subjects too often consid-
ered to be too risky for normal social debate and discussion but all vital to any
meaningful discourse on Caribbean development and existential reality. They
between them deal firstly with religion and moreso as it specifically relates to
issues of race and class, then there are two articles on culture, each discuss the
use of cultural expressions as political agencies, and two articles on politics
(political leadership and intellectual interaction, the effects of outside political
"intervention"). The issue may be of some use to those concerned with the power
of culture in Caribbean social formation.
The first essay, Churches and the State: Aspects of Religious Ideology
In Colonial and Post-Colonial Jamaica by Diane Jane Austin-Broos has re-
flected views that she formulated after pursuing research on Jamaican Pente-
costalism following an earlier interest in class cultures and ideologies in the
Kingston urban environment. Austin-Broos considers Pentecostalism to be a
legacy that embodies some features of lower class religion, and also the issues of
race and class. Pentecostalism in Jamaica replaces and reconstrues aspects of
the discourse of race and class. Far from being a phenomenon, these forms of
displacement and reconstrual were there in the earlier Baptist practice. Most of the
informants from whom material on class was gathered maintained a distinctly
secular outlook. Few of the men were church attendees, and among the women,
it was mainly those who were lower middle class who sustained a regular church
The essay, Kamau Brathwaite and the Bajan Hardcore by Curwen Best
concerns itself with making connections between selected important writers from
Barbados, since, in his view there are no scholarly debates which discuss Bar-
badian aesthetics in light of past and very recent popular cultural developments.
According to Best the "article provides some insights into the conceptualization of
Bardbadian aesthetics through an analysis of what might be termed 'folk' and
'popular' subversive works....it is built upon Kamau's hypothesis of an underground
literary and artistic tradition which links selected writers and art forms within
Barbados. Central to Brathwaite's hypothesis is the connection he would seem to
make between folk culture and popular culture. Indeed he rejects more traditional,
closed concepts ot the category commonly called, Literature. He is much more
intent on conceiving of a cultural tradition which emphasizes creativity, a connec-
tion with 'roots', and a grounding in 'Nation Language'" In discussing some
possible links which connect Barbadian artists, Best compares Brathwaite with
some younger Barbadian writers.
The essay, The United States and Haiti: An Exercise in Intervention,
by Judson Jefferies, explores the degree to which the 1994 United States led

intervention contributed to, or impeded democracy in Haiti. He states that the
United States invaded Haiti with the intention of returning Aristide to power and
restoring democracy in that country. However, according to Jeffries, "the invasion
represented an instance where the international community (the UN) sanctioned
the use of force (organized and led by the US) to reinstall a president and end the
violence against a defenceless people whose only crime was a desire for a
democratic way of life"
Anne Maria Bankay in her article The Issue of Oppression a political
Stance In the Poetry of Two Jamaican Women Writers examines the works of
poet Lorna Goodison and Elean Thomas, writer and political activist, both of whom,
she posits, focus in their poetry on the overt as well as the more subtle manifesta-
tions of oppression. Bankay sees their writings as political in nature as each in her
own style demonstrates "an acute awareness of what it means to be oppressed
and marginalized, not only because of socio-political circumstances, but because
of gender and race" There are commonalities between the poets selected: each
extends the poetic concern from Jamaica to lands beyond their native land; both
women affirm the literary value of the Jamaican vernacular switching back and
forth from Standard English to Jamaican Patois; and both poets create intense,
startling images which 'seem to have been distilled through a perception of their
society which is as sensitive as it is critical"
The Greatness Thrust Upon Eric Williams by Mario Feyno, starts from
the premise that Eric Williams was a statesman-scholar, and who, even as a
founding father and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, continued to actively
pursue scholarly research. Feyno, after surveying textbooks of world history found
that Williams was largely invisible. The essay provides some background informa-
tion regarding the impact of the scholarly work of Dr. Williams, during and after his
lifetime. Feyno states that "although this essay is not intended to support or refute
Williams' theses, it may be worth reminding ourselves that he came up with quite a
few noteworthy ones... "
Caribbean Quarterly takes this opportunity to congratulate Nobel Laure-
ate V.S. Naipaul, the Trinidad born novelist, West Indian literary icon and UWI
Honorary graduand, on his award of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Caribbean Quarterly, Volume 47 Numero 4, 2001, content cinq articles
d'interet divers, mais tous de portee vraiment caribeenne. Les themes, eux-
memes, sont garantis d'etre sujets a controversy, se rapportant a des sujets que
I'on consider, bien trop souvent, socialement risques pour faire lieu de debate et de
discussion. Neanmoins, ceci sont tous d'interet capital a tout discours approfondi
sur le developpement caribeen et la reality existentielle. Parmi eux, on traite tout
d'abord de religion et d'autant plus, en ce que cela a trait tout particulierement aux
questions de race et de classes, puis il y a deux articles sur la culture, I'un et I'autre
examinent I'utilisation d'expressions culturelles en tant qu'agences politiques, et
aussi deux articles sur la politique (le gouvernement politique et I'interaction
intellectuelle, les effects de 'Tintervention' politique exterieure). II se peut que cette
question soit d'une certain utility pour ceux concerns par le pouvoir de la culture
dans la formation social caribeenne.
Le premier essai, Churches and the State: Aspects of Religious Ideol-
ogy in Colonial and Post-Colonial Jamaica (Eglises et etats: les aspects de
I'ideologie religieuse dans la Jamaique colonial et post-coloniale) de Diane Jane
Austin-Broos refletait des opinions formulees apres avoir poursuivi des travaux de
recherche sur le Pentec6tisme, donnant suite, ainsi, un int6ret qu'elle avait
montre auparavant dans les cultures et les ideologies de classes dansl'environe-
ment urbain de Kingston. Austin-Broos consider que le entec6tisme est "un legs
qui exprime tous les traits de la religion des classes inferieures, ainsi que les
questions de race et de classes. Le Pentec6tisme, en Jamaique, replace et
re-interprete des aspects du discours de race et de classes. Loin d'etre un
phenomene, ces formes de deplacement et de re-interpretation etaient presents
dans la pratique Baptiste d'autrefois. La plupart des informateurs, grace a qui le
recueil de donnees sur la question de classes fut realis6, maintenaient une position
fortement profane. Ainsi apparalt-il que guere peu d'hommes allaient a I'eglise, et
quant aux femmes, surtout celles issues de la petite bourgeoisie affirmaient une
affiliation reguliere a une eglise"
L'essai, Kamau Brathwaite and the Bajan Hardcore (Kamau Brathwaite
et le hardcore barbadien), de Curwen Best s'interesse a etablir des liens entire un
petit group d'ecrivains important de la Barbade, puisque selon lui, il n'y a point
de debat academique qui discute de I'esthetique barbadienne en tenant compete
des developpements passes et tout recents. D'apres Best, "l'article permet de
p6netrer la conceptualisation de I'esthetique barbadienne par le biais d'une ana-
lyse de ce que I'on pourrait nommer travaux subversifs le 'folk' et le 'populaire'
CECI est construit sur I'hypothese de Kamau d'une tradition litteraire et artistique
qui relie certain ecrivains et formes artistiques a la Barbade. Au coeur de I'hy-
pothese de Brathwaite est le lien qu'il semblerait faire entire la culture 'folk' et la
culture populaire. Certes, rejette-t-il des concepts plus traditionnels, moins ouverts,
de la categories ordinairement appelee Litt6rature. II est bien plus resolu con-

cevoir une tradition culturelle qui fait valoir la creativity, un lien avec ses 'racines',
et une base en 'Langue national' "Tout en discutant des liens possibles qui relient
les artistes arbadiens, Best compare Brathwaite a de plus jeunes ecrivains bar-
L'essai, The United States and Haiti: An Exercise in Intervention (Les
Etats-Unis et HaYti: une operation d'intervention), de Judson Jefferies, explore le
degree auquel I'intervention menee par les Etats-Unis a contribute, ou entrave, la
democratic en Haiti. II declare que les Etats-Unis ont envahi Haiti avec 'intention
de remettre Aristide au pouvoir et de restaurer la democratic dans ce pays.
Toutefois, d'apres Jeffries, "'Tinvasion a represented un example ou la communaute
international (I'ONU) a sanctionne I'usage de la force (organisee et dirigee par les
Etats-Unis) de retablir un president et de mettre fin a la violence centre un people
sans defense don't le seul crime etait le desir d'avoir un mode de vie democra-
Anne Maria Bankay, dans son article The Issue of Oppression A
Political Stance in the Poetry of Two Jamaican Women Writers (La question de
l'oppression une prise de position politique dans la poesie de deux jamafquaines
ecrivains) examine les travaux du poete Lorna Goodison et d' Elean Thomas,
ecrivain et activist politique, don't les deux, avance-t-elle, se concentrent, dans
leur poesie, sur les manifestations de I'oppression tant declarees que plus subtiles.
Bankay consider leurs 6crits comme etant politiques en nature puique chacune,
dans son propre style, demontre "une prise de conscience aigue de ce que signifie
d' dtre opprimee et marginalisee, pas seulement a cause de irconstances socio-
politiques, mais a cause de son sexe et de sa race II y a certaines similitudes
entire les poetes choisis chacune elargit la preoccupation poetique, partant de la
Jamafque et I'etendant a des pays au-dela de leer pays natal ces deux femmes
affirment la valeur litteraire de leur langue vernaculaire jamafquaine en passant
constamment de I'anglais correct au patois jamafquain et les deux poetes cr6ent
des images saisissantes, d'une grande intensity, qui 'semblent avoir 6t6 distill6es
a travers une perception de leur society qui est aussi sensible que critique'
The Greatness Thrust Upon Eric Williams (La grandeur conferee a Eric
Williams) de Mario Feyno, part du principle qu'Eric Williams etait un homme d'etat
erudit, et qui, meme en tant que pere fondateur et premier ministry de la Trinite et
Tobago, a continue de mener activement des travaux de recherche academiques.
Feyno, apres avoir fait un tour d'horizon des manuels d'histoire mondiale a con-
state que Williams y etait, pour ainsi dire, invisible. L'essai offre des informations
de base en ce qui concern I'impact du travail academique du Dr. Williams, que ce
soit de son vivant ou apres. Feyno declare que quoique cet essai n'ait point
I'intention de souvenir ou de refuter les theses de Williams, il vaut la peine de se
rappeler que bon nombre d'entre elles sont dignes d'attention .

Caribbean Quarterly profile de cette occasion pour feliciter le laureat du
prix Nobel V.S. Naipul, le romancier originaire de la Trinite, I'ic6ne litteraire antil-
laise qui fut dipl6me a titre honorifique de UWI, de son prix Nobel de litterature
d6cern6 en 2001.
El Volumen 47 nOmero 4, 2001 del Caribbean Quarterly contiene cinco
articulos de diversos temas, los cuales sin embargo no dejan de ser verdadera-
mente caribenos. Los mismos titulos, sin lugar a dudas, son garantizados para ser
controversiales ya que tratan temas como los siguientes que con demasiada
frecuencia son considerados demasiado arriesgados para el debate social normal
pero los cuales siguen siendo esenciales para el discurso sobre el desarrollo y la
realidad existencial de Caribe. En primer instancia, exponen sobre la religion
sobre todo en lo que se relacione especificamente con el tema de raza y clase.
Luego siguen dos articulos sobre cultural, los cuales examinan el uso de las
expresiones culturales como agencies political. Hay dos articulos sobre la political
(liderazgo politico e interacci6n intellectual, los efectos de la 'intervenci6n' political
desde fuera). Este tema puede ser Otil para Iss personas que se interesan por el
poder de la cultural en la formaci6n social del Caribe.
El primer ensayo, Churches and the State: Aspects of Religious Ideol-
ogy in Colonial and Post-Colonial Jamaica (La Iglesia y el Estado: Aspectos de
la Ideologia Religiosa en la Jamaica colonial y pos-colonial) por Diane Jane Austin
- Broos refleja sus opinions formuladas a raiz de sus investigaciones sobre el
pentecostalismo jamaicano dando seguimiento a un temprano interns por las
cultures e ideologias de clase en el medioambiente urbano de Kingston. Segun
Austin-Broos, el pentecostalismo es "un legado que incorpora elements de la
religion de la clase baja, y tambien los temas de raza y clase. El pentecostalismo
en Jamaica reemplaza y reconstruye aspects del discurso sobre raza y clase.
Lejos de ser un fen6meno, estas formas de desplazamiento y reconstrucci6n se
encontraban presents en la practice Bautista de antes. La mayoria de los
informants que proporcionaron los datos sobre clase guardaban una perspective
que era definitivamente secular. Pocos entire los hombres asistian a la iglesia y
fue principalmente las mujeres de la clase media baja quienes mantuvieron una
afiliaci6n constant con la iglesia"
En su ensayo sobre Kamau Brathwaite and the Bajan Hardcore
(Kamau Brathwaite y el nucleo duro barbadense) Curwen Best busca hacer la
conexi6n entire algunos escritores importantes de Barbados ya que, en su opinion,
no hay discursos academicos que examinan la estetica barbadense tomando en
cuenta los sucesos culturales populares del pasado y los mas recientes. SegOn
Best "el articulo ayuda a entender la conceptualizaci6n de la estetica barbadense

Best "el articulo ayuda a entender la conceptualizaci6n de la estetica barbadense
por medio de un analisis de lo que podria Ilamarse obras subversivas "tradicion-
ales" y "populares. Parte de la hip6tesis de Kamau de que exista una tradici6n
literaria y artistic subterranea que une a ciertos escritores y formas artisticas en
Barbados. Central a la hipotesis de Brathwaite es la conexi6n que pretend hacer
entire la cultural traditional (folk) y la popular. De hecho, rechaza los concepts
mas tradicionales y cerrados de la categoria normalmente denominada Literatura.
Insiste mas en conceptualizar una tradici6n cultural que enfatice la creatividad, una
conexion con las "raices" y fundamentos en "Nation Language" (Lenguaje del
Pueblo). En su discusion sobre los posibles enlaces entire los artists bar-
badenses, Best le compare a Brathwaite con otros escritores barbadienses de
El ensayo, The United States and Haiti: An Exercise in Intervention
(Los Estados Unidos y Haiti: Una Practica Intervencionista) por Judson Jefferies,
explore el grado al cual la intervenci6n norteamericana de 1994 facility o impidi6 la
democracia en Haiti. Declara que los Estados Unidos invadieron a Haiti con la
intenci6n de devolver a Aristide al poder y de restaurar la democracia en ese pals.
Sin embargo, segun Jefferies, "la invasion represents una instancia en que la
comunidad international (la ONU) prohibit el uso de la fuerza (organizada y
dirigida por los Estados Unidos) para reinstalar a un president y terminar la
violencia contra un pueblo desamparado cuyo solo crime fue el deseo de un
modo de vivir democratic.
Anne Marie Bankay en su articulo The Issue of Oppression a political
stance in the poetry of two Jamaican Women Writers (El Tema de la Opresi6n
La Posici6n Politica en la Poesia de dos Escritoras Jamaicanas) examine las
obras de la poeta Lorna Goodison y Elean Thomas, escritora y activist political,
quienes segun ella, enfocan las manifestaciones tanto las visible como las mas
stiles de la opresi6n. Para Bankay, sus obras son mas bien political ya que cada
una, en su propio estilo, demuestra "una profunda concientizaci6n de lo que
significa estar oprimido y enajenado, no s6lo por las circunstancias sociopoliticas
sino tambien por las consideraciones de genero y raza" Hay puntos comunes
entire las poetas seleccionadas: las dos en su poesia extienden su preocupaci6n
fuera de Jamaica, hacia otras tierras. Ambas afirman el valor literario de la
expresi6n popular del jamaicano que oscila entire un ingles estandar y el patois
jamaicano. Ambas crean intensos y asustantes imagenes que "parecen haber sido
destilados en base de una percepci6n igual de sensible e important de su
The Greatness Thrust Upon Eric Williams (La Grandeza Impuesta
sobre Eric Williams) por Mario Feyno, parte de la base de que Eric Williams fue
estadista -academico, quien abn siendo fundador y Primer Ministro de Trinidad y
Tobago continue siguiendo activo en la investigaci6n academica. Feyno, al exami-
nar los textos sobre la historic mundial, encontr6 que casi no figuraba Williams. El


trabajo da algunos antecedentes al impact de la obra academica del Dr Williams
durante su vida y despues de su muerte. Feyno declara que "aunque este ensayo
no pretend defender ni rechazar las tesis de Williams, vale acordarnos de que
habia algunas que fueron importantes
Caribbean Quarterly quiere aprovecharse de esta oportunidad de felici-
tarle al Premio Nobel V S. Naipaul, novelist trinitario, simbolo literario y graduado
honorario de la UWI, por haber sido otorgado el Premio Nobel para Literatura,

Churches And The State: Aspects Of Religious Ideology In
Colonial And Post-Colonial Jamaica



.........while the relationship between political and
religious excitement is obviously intimate, the na-
ture of the relationship remains obscure. (E.P.
Thompson, 1963:389)
In recent years I have pursued research on Jamaican Pentecostalism
following an earlier interest in class cultures and ideologies in the Kingston urban
environment. A pervasive idiom of class relations and an enduring sense of colour
and 'race' are legacies that Jamaicans sustain from their extensive colonial past.
They have also forged in the course of this past a remarkable religiosity. This
religious orientation is now expressed in a variety of Christian forms, but Christian
forms in which there are embedded a range of Jamaican cultural concerns. Some
of these issues I have discussed elsewhere (Austin/Austin-Broos 1981, 1987,
1991). Here I consider a legacy that embodies some features of lower class
religion, and also the issues of race and class. Pentecostalism in Jamaica dis-
places and reconstrues aspects of the discourse of race and class. Far from being
a new phenomenon, these forms of displacement and reconstrual were there in
earlier Baptist practice. Reflection on the Pentecostals and Orthodox Baptists,
Jamaica's largest twentieth century denominations, reveals a consistent structural
and ideological role for churches that sustain 'the Saviour' as a European derived
construction. In this latter characteristic these churches differ from Rastafarianism
which has contested this construction in various ways. Often, therefore, these
'mainstream' churches are not considered as distinctively Jamaican. The Ortho-
dox Baptists and Pentecostals, however, have shaped Jamaican culture ire other
ways and it is to these other structural and ideological impacts that this discussion
is directed.
The Jamaicans who have been my informants have varied significantly in
their orientations (Austin/Austin-Broos 1974, 1975, 1979, 1983, 1984,1988; and cf.
1981, 1984a, 1987, 1991). Most of the informants from whom I gathered material
on class maintained a distinctly secular outlook. Few of the men were church
attendees, and among the women, it was mainly those who were lower middle
class who sustained a regular church affiliation. Even then, issues of spiritual and
moral order rather seldom, if at all, entered our discussions. If I had recruited

Pentecostalists as regular interviewees in those early years, my picture of Jamaica,
or at least of Kingston, might have been rather different. In fact, it is interesting to
speculate on why I did not in that first round of interactions and interviews with
householders manage to engage Pentecostalists. The latter I recruited as inform-
ants more sporadically, mainly through church associations, and not through the
process of knocking door to door. In my analysis of class ideology I found
competing explanations of Jamaica's stratification, some in terms of unequal
wealth and others in terms of education. I fastened, however, on the term 'educa-
tion' which had dual meanings in Jamaican discourse: one, a sense of achieved
social status, and the other, an enduring and heritable condition, mainly concerned
with being 'uneducated,' that attached to a person as a kind of being (Austin 1974;
1983; 1984. This latter condition of being uneducated, involved a sub-text in the
discourse on class. It also presumed another idiom of kinds of being who were
'inside' or 'outside' society. Being 'outside' specified the domains and forms of
practice that comprised an uneducated state (Austin 1974, 1979, 1984:149-62).
One of my conclusions from this analysis was that although racial or colour
terminology was often not present in these discussions, there was, nevertheless,
an enduring sense of kinds of being that was related to Jamaican notions of race
and rooted in Jamaica's colonial past (see especially Austin 1974, 1979,
1981:230). I now would add to this analysis that while it was typical of lower class
Jamaicans to 'switch' between an idiom of colour, and education and wealth, when
middle class informants talked about class they would more often keep the idioms
separate (cf. Alexander 1977:430). Though they made this separation, however,
middle class informants like their lower class counterparts, drew on cultural para-
digms of class, paradigms of living and kinds of being, which they educed from a
racialized past. Much of my energy in those early analyses was devoted to showing
the manner in which forms of enduring historical hegemony led even those who
contested this discourse to assume some of its terms of reference. A working class
man might say, for instance, that the plain mannerly bad behaviour' of other 'black'
Jamaicans kept him in his place, almost, as it were, through mistaken identity. He
was not of that kind, he was skilled in his task, but their actions made him seem
inferior. As a consequence he was paid less for his work which was classified as
'uneducated.' The many informants who sustained such views also commonly
called on 'government' to act in relation to their position by providing better
housing, better conditions for work, and better education for their children. Their
position was founded on the view that the nationalist movement that brought
independence should have established institutions responsive to colour and class
It was in this context that Pentecostalists presented themselves as anoma-
lous. Their emphasis on knowledge through revelation and their view that holy
living meant the laws of God, entailed that in their daily practice they seemed to
avoid the discourse of class either in its critical or hegemonic mode. Education
was important for their children and they were certainly 'mannerly' in Jamaican

terms, and yet they did not deploy these meanings as a principal measure of their
human worth. Saints could and did perceive inequalities. They were sensitive to
discrimination of colour and class. But the hegemonic aspects of the discourse of
class were deflected by the assurance of their holy state. Their views of govern-
ment were often sceptical and rested on a view that the society of man was
inevitably corrupt, not least within its political component. Nevertheless, they also
desisted from a critical position that would link enduring inequalities to the practice
of government or nations. Their focus was generally turned to self-help and local
community as it related to their larger church, and to the Second Coming of Christ.
The 'normal politics' of a Kingston neighbourhood was displaced in the discourse
of their daily lives. This is not to say they had no opinions, or no interest in
Jamaican politics. But the expectations of politics were reduced, and their concern
was reserved for particular issues seen to bear on their religious practice (cf.
Thompson 1963:350-400 and Hobsbawm 1957; 1959:129-30; and also Mintz
1960:210-52; 257-270). Many of these Pentecostalists were women who had
moved into modest clerical positions due to structural changes in Jamaica's econ-
omy (see Gordon 1987; 1989). The unreality of the politics of class and race was
possibly part of their experience. Yet other women, not Pentecostals, sharing a
similar social mobility were often very vocal on political issues.
This situation would be easily construed if Pentecostals were alone in this
respect, and proved to be a minority sect. I have no particular proof that they are
not alone, but the forms of theology on which the Pentecostal conviction is based
are common to other churches in Jamaica and would be familiar especially to
Baptists who have also been involved in a revival tradition. Neither are Pente-
costals a minority sect. Two Jamaican census categories concern Pentecostals,
the category 'Pentecostal' and the category 'Church of God.' Although not all who
comprise the latter category are Pentecostal, the majority are trinitarian Pente-
costalists. The category 'Pentecostal' contains mainly unitarian Pentecostalists. In
a 1982 census population of almost 2.2 million, the two Pentecostal categories
totalled around 514,000, more than doubling the next largest category of Orthodox
Baptists. Of the two Pentecostal categories, 'Church of God' was the larger with a
total of over 400,000. In short, Pentecostals now comprise the largest category of
religious affiliation in Jamaica, and among them would be a significant minority for
whom the world is construed in unitary terms of religious belief. These observations
become even more interesting when they are aligned with another set of data.
Close to 400,000 Jamaicans proclaim no religious affiliation at all. In addition, the
'Not Stated' category accounts for almost 250,000 Jamaicans. Some of these
probably have no affiliation, and so it might be reasonable to conclude that
something over 400,000 Jamaicans do not regard themselves as religiously in-
clined. These self-descriptions are not a reliable guide to Jamaicans' cultural
construction of the world which, even in the case of non-believers, can have a
major redemptive theme concerning slavery, liberation, and the advance of human
freedoms. Nevertheless, the census statistics suggest a situation nation-N6de that

is consistent with my neighbourhood experience: that in Jamaica there are signifi-
cantly different construals of the world along religious and non-religious fines that
have some implications for politics, and for the way in which people experience
race and class (see Austin-Broos 1991).
The relation of 'new religious movements' to the politics of class and
nationalism has been a focus for discussion in literature on the African states. At
least two major reviews have been written by James Fernandez (1978) and
Terence Ranger (1986). These reviews, and the gamut of literature they address,
reflect two broadly different accounts; one from a political economy orientation and
the other from the orientation of cultural anthropology. The former position fur-
nishes a certain restraint concerning the possibilities these movements carry for
critique and change of their societies. The latter, cultural view, is inclined to see the
matter in Fernandezs words as an 'argument of images' involving different con-
struals of the world. Some writers, both on Africa and elsewhere, have sought to
reconcile these views by interpreting the new religious movements as forms of
culturally embodied response to issues of subordination and modernity (eg. Coma-
roff 1986; Ong 1987). Culturally, however, the question is to what degree and in
what way do adherents of these religious movements identify the nature of their
experience with particular social orders or collective practice. If the knowledge of
the world that informs their experience is different from a secular view, what has
been the practised component of this knowledge, and what are its implications for
politics? In the following discussion, I make some suggestions in the light of my
Jamaican experience. My conclusion will be that Jamaican Pentecostals experi-
ence inequality differently both from those who are non-religious, and from the
Rastafarian groups. The type of orientation that the Pentecostals sustain has
received a particular practical embodiment within a range of popular churches as
they have acted to provide their adherents with structures partially autonomous
from the state. They leave in their wake a distance from the state, and a quietistic
response to politics. This response, moreover, is sustained and encouraged by
links with the metropolitan world. The orientation I will describe was established
during the colonial period. It has persisted and also been transformed through the
medium of Jamaican Pentecostalism. It is indicative of a modernist condition in
which structures and ideologies beyond Jamaica bear on that society and culture
to offer both opportunity and constraint. The 'argument of images,' one might say,
becomes a domain in which every image is, in itself, a site of ideological contest-
Below, I consider the role of Jamaica's popular churches, particularly
Baptist and Pentecostal, in their relations with the state and with a wider transna-
tional world. These relations suggest the practised embodiment of a life and
identity distanced from the state. Then I consider some aspects of the Pentecostal
experience: mobility through the church, encountering race and class in the church,
and preaching to the state from the Pentecostal pulpit. These forms of experience
demonstrate how a transcendental ideology transforms the issues of class and

race and even the bracketing power of the state. I conclude with some observa-
tions on why the secularism of the modern state has a limited salience for these
Jamaicans who in turn have an impact on political culture by making God and
Redemption 'really real' as factors in Jamaican life. I briefly contrast their position
with the Rastafarians who contest the state, and race and class, within a rather
different cosmological frame. Baptist Politics and Alternative Milieux.
Following the emancipation, the role of the orthodox Baptists in Jamaica is
fairly well known and much remarked upon (see especially Wilmott 1980, 1985;
and Stewart 1983, 1992). Although not the only actors in the field, they were
certainly prominent in pursuing the construction of free church villages and propos-
ing a social and moral order that was conceived as alternative to the plantation,
although not entirely distanced from it (Paget n.d.; Holt 1991:144-6,168-76; Mintz
1974; Austin-Broos 1992). In the midst of the rental disputes that marked the end
of apprenticeship, the missionaries promoted their free village scheme for those
with appropriate means and a Christian disposition. In this, Knibb, Phillippo,
Burchell and Clark were aided by the financial support, totalling around 24,000
pounds, that had come through parliamentary compensation, and public subscrip-
tion, following the rebellion of 1831 and the Colonial Church Union's attack on
nonconformists (Timpson 1938:30; Turner 1982:148-78). The response of the
people to the free village scheme was enthusiastic but also short-lived. Rental
disputes diminished by the mid-1840s, and in the interim the economy had de-
clined again, so that Christian freedmen leaving estates found it difficult to pur-
chase land or to contribute to chapel construction (Underhill 1879:5; cf. Holt
1991:139-40). In the first euphoria of emancipation, the Baptists had become an
independent group, financially loosed from their former support by the Baptist
Home Committee in London (Payne 1933:68). By the mid-1840s, however, the
missionaries were encountering financial problems that elicited Home Committee
support both in 1844 and 1846. These contributions would exhaust for a while the
largesse of the parent group. The Baptist missionaries were faced with the need to
support themselves in the Jamaican milieu (Underhill 1879:5-9).
Values they sustained on behalf of the freed, as well as the condition of
their own organization, turned the Baptists to local politics. Their political practice,
nevertheless, also embodied a religious vision. Convinced that industry and
proper domesticity were integral to redemption and assurance of Grace, it was also
important to the Baptists that they extend their free village system further. In this,
they were propelled by a sect-like view that required a Christian milieu fully realized
on earth (Troeltsch 1949:688). As Phillippo described in his post-emancipation
pastoral living a daily Christian life as conceived on a European yeoman model was
integral to the conversion process (Phillippo 1843; cf. Hinton 1847:486-7; Austin-
Broos 1992). The constitution of a Christian world where the spiritual power of the
heavenly forces met and transformed temporal practice was a form of conception
commonplace among British and American Baptists of the period (McLoughlin
1960:xvi; Smith 1957:49, 138-9). The religious aspirations of the missionaries,

however, rested on a modicum of rural prosperity, and they saw the realization of
prosperity impeded by taxation demands from the Assembly. As a consequence,
the Baptists became engaged with policy issues bearing on tax. Following the
termination of apprenticeship, even freeholders quickly found that they required
waged work to sustain their households. The Baptists themselves made no secret
of the fact that they expected their followers to divide their time between own
account cultivation and plantation labour (Hinton 1847:486-7). It was through a
combination of waged work and cash crops that the Baptists hoped to realize
support for their communities. Government sponsored immigration affected the
freeholders in two different ways. First, it threatened to exacerbate the over-supply
of labour that was steadily emerging as more plantations failed; and second, it was
a government cost financed out of taxes that seemed to benefit the planters
exclusively. The peripheralization and impoverishment of freehold labour, seen as
an outcome of further migration, threatened the Baptists' entire agenda. In addition
to the issue of immigration, the Baptists opposed the established church. The
upkeep of the Anglicans' clergy and churches amounted to a figure between
40,000 and 50,000 pounds each year. Less than 1 per cent of non-white Jamai-
cans were, at the time, involved in this church, and yet their taxes were the
substantial contribution to its support (Campbell 1976:230-1; Wilmott 1985:4).
Given that the Colonial Church Union had been organized and supported by
numerous Anglicans, it was a double affront to the Baptists that their followers'
taxes should support the state church. Baptists believed, in relation to these
issues, that reduction of the tax burden imposed on the emancipated would also
allow the deployment of funds to projects supported by the missionaries. In this the
Baptists saw themselves as an alternative medium to the state for the elaboration
of social infrastructure. Belief in the capacity of organized religion to play this role,
especially in a society where the tax base and its deployment have been precari-
ous, was a legacy of the Orthodox Baptists that left a mark in Jamaican life. To
change the tax regime, however, required significant influence in the Assembly.
Black Baptists would need to be able to choose their own candidates, and for this
they would need to be registered voters. Baptist missionaries including Knibb,
Clark and Burchell were aware that the free village system, as well as being a
religious vision, was also a mode of local organization, a form of economy and a
means of enfranchisement (Wilmott 1980:49).
In 1840, as a consequence of political struggles in the Assembly, an act
was passed that extended the franchise among the newly freed. The act laid down
that a man would be entitled to vote if he earned 6 pounds a year on a freehold or
paid the equivalent in taxes to the Assembly. A prospective Assembly man needed
a net annual income of 180 pounds from an estate, or else 'real property worth
1,800 pounds, or combined real and personal property worth 3,000 pounds' (Holt
1991217). This meant that the Baptist freeholders were simply enfranchised. For
representation they had to look to others as candidates (Campbell 1976:23940;
Holt 1991:217). From 1842, Baptists began to recruit new voters for an anticipated

1845 election (Campbell 1976:230; Holt 1991:104-5, 112; Wilmott 1980:49). Vari-
ous measures were used to frustrate them culminating in Governor Eigin's move to
bring the election forward to 1844 (Wilmott 1980:50-1).
William Knibb, the Baptists' chief political activist, died on November 15,
1845, and Burchell died six months later in London. Other missionaries and
schoolteachers left the island in the later 1840s as conditions grew worse and the
ranks of the British Baptists became depleted (Henderson 1931:94). The Sugar
Duties Act and the epidemics of the early 1850s radically affected the population
(Eisner 1961:1-:L34, L36). And though freehold candidates entered the Assembly,
Baptist leaders were disappointed with the peoples' choice and feared the rise of
demagogues in a climate of acute economic distress (Wilmott 1980:59). British
Baptists began to join with others in favouring the imposition of Crown Colony rule
(Wilmott 1980:59; Campbell 1976:314-6, 329). A new Franchise Act was passed
in 1859 that limited freeholder voting again, and in that year Edward Bean Underhill
visited Jamaica to assess the position of the mission (Holt 1991:256-8; Underhill
Underhill's visit was the first in a series of events that would link the British
Baptists, albeit unwilling, with Gordon, Bogle and the Morant Bay Rebellion. When
Governor Eyre distributed a letter Underhill wrote to the Secretary of State to the
Colonies regarding hardship in Jamaica, numerous clergy and their congregations
responded to confirm the conditions that Underhill described. After the rebellion
had been suppressed, Eyre took these events to indicate a close association
between the church and the actions of Paul Bogle and George William Gordon
(Underhill 1867:3-4; Black 1965:174-5; Stewart 1983:380-94; Campbell 1976:333).
The Morant Bay Rebellion and its aftermath condensced a range of issues
in Jamaica concerning the relation between religion and politics. Through Un-
derhill, the British Baptists voiced the agonies of a social order that encouraged the
rebellion in the east. They were able to identify a set of conditions that were real
and motivating factors for Jamaicans. Gordon, nevertheless, had to move beyond
Orthodox Baptist practice in order to satisfy both his religious sensibility and his
social conscience. The integration of this sensibility and conscience is reflected in
that part of the Royal Commission report that deals with the actions of Gordon and
If a man like Paul Bogle was in the habit of hear-
ing such expressions as those contained in Gor-
don's letters, as that the reign of their oppressors
would be short, and that the Lord was about to
destroy them, it would not take much to convince
him that he might be the appointed instrument in
the Lord's hand for effecting the end; and it is
clear that this was Bogle's belief, as we find that

after the part he had taken in the massacre at
Morant Bay, he, in his Chapel at Stony Gut, re-
turned thanks to God that "he had gone to do that
work, and that God had prospered him in his
work." (cited in Stewartl983:389).
These ideas conjoined the sect orientation of the British Baptists with
possibly African-derived ideas that ritual practice in the world should realize felici-
tous life in the present. These notions came together and were jointly transformed
in Jamaican ideas that redemption should bring revival in spiritual and corporeal
life. In the uprising, Bogle's men had killed both the Reverend Victor Hershell and
the Anglican rector, Stephen Cooke. These men had opposed Gordon's election
to the vestry, a crucial body in parish governance. Stephen Cooke's son had, in
addition, been the clerk of court in Morant Bay (Campbell 1976:335). The politics
and religion of these Anglicans, with their antipathy to the Baptist confession, were
an integrated whole for Bogle and his men (cf. Robotham 1981:91; Holt 1991:299).
Established church and judiciary stood as a local manifestation of the state op-
posed to the moral community of small freeholders and their chapel religion.
These orders were both temporally and spiritually opposed. The orthodox Baptists
with their mainly British leaders would ultimately capitulate to the state in order to
guard their mission task. Underhill repudiated Bogle and Gordon and a group of
Baptist pastors wrote to Eyre that 'the masses of the people have not yet advanced
far in civilization. Their artificial wants are few, whilst the climate is such as to
induce habits of indolence' (Underhill 1867:8; Henderson et.al. 1867:35; also see
Stewart 1992).
These developments, and the antecendent events, have generally been
seen as the collapse or capitulation of the orthodox Baptists in the face of the
power of the state (Wilmott 1985; Stewart 1992; Curtin 1970). However, rather
seldom is it asked exactly what survived these tumultuous events. Phillip Curtin
writes that in the 1860s religious life came to conform to 'the division between the
two Jamaicas' (1970:172). Yet the Orthodox Baptists situation at least, was in fact
a little more complex. The three great years of increase in orthodox Baptist history
were 1840, 1861, and again in 1907, the year of Kingston's frightening earthquake.
In 1908, following the earthquake, orthodox Baptist membership stood at an all
time high of almost 39,000. Moreover, from 1868 through to 1896 when labour
emigration began affecting the churches, the Baptists experienced steady growth,
more than doubling their membership during this period (Williams 1915:7). Jamai-
cans persistently remained engaged with the orthodox Baptists whose project was
limited as much by their own cultural assumptions as it was by lack of interest
among the people (cf. Stewart 1983:214-5). The situation is reflected in the fact
that by 1877 the Baptist Union pastorate numbered 46 of whom 24 were black or
brown Jamaicans. All but two of these had been trained at Calabar, the secondary
college funded from London by the Baptist Missionary Society. These pastors

ministered to over 25,000 followers distributed between 114 churches (Underhill
After the Morant Bay Rebellion, the orthodox Baptists withdrew from
political engagement with the state, focused on conversion, and sustained a
circumscribed engagement with the people. Yet their history and proportion of
black Jamaican pastors gave them a social standing different from the Anglican
church even when it began to expand. The Baptists' major sectarian competitor,
the Methodists, were more closely identified with the brown middle class. In
addition, the Baptists, like the other missionary churches, carried the burden of
elementary education. During the second half of the nineteenth century a pattern
developed within Jamaica for servicing the lower class with teachers. Elementary
schools were 'denominational' schools funded in part by the state, but administered
by the churches themselves (Eisner 1961:332). Local teachers were under the
jurisdiction of a manager, who was very often the local pastor, and even in the early
twentieth century the curriculum involved extensive religious education (Miller
1986:49). A principal course of social mobility, especially for the sons of the poor,
was to move to a teacher training or theological college also managed and largely
funded by a church (Miller 1986:27). The state took over this system in 1892,
having already inserted itself in secondary education, and systematically began to
change the curriculum of the system. Primary education became more utilitarian,
and more oriented to the reproduction of a lower class, mainly manual population.
Notwithstanding, even in the 1980s, half of the elementary teacher training col-
leges were still managed by church organizations (Miller 1986:11-2).
As the Baptists disengaged from direct political action, they had, like other
missionary churches, turned their gaze to certain social services crucial to the
aspirations of the people. The institutional infrastructure that they created was
made possible, in part, by the infusion of funds from church sources external to
Jamaica. They thus sustained a relation to the state that could also be seen at the
local level as reflecting a certain autonomy. They integrated the operation of
church and school, and infused education with a Christian ethos which proposed,
in Errol Miller's words, that 'a black person through education could rise socially
to any position' (Miller 1986:29). Self-evidently false by the turn of the century,
this view was nevertheless ensconsced within a religious ideology that saw racial-
ized Structures and class discrimination very much in terms of 'prejudice;' of the
particular moral failings of individuals to be circumvented by recourse to a loving
God manifest in the social structures sustained by the church. The advent of black
Jamaican teachers and pastors trained to service their own lower class, gave local
plausibility to this view of the world among those committed to the Christian faith.
If there were not in fact 'two Jamaicas,' the 'dual system' of education over which
the state presided allowed the lower class and the modestly mobile a sense of
church sponsored culture and infrastructure ostensibly distanced from the busi-
ness of the state, and from overt colour-class conflict.

Pentecostal Transformation of the Baptist Role
By the 1920s, the Baptist Union was sufficiently secure to assume a middle
class ethos itself as Jamaican pastors gained higher education and began to
dominate their own organization. By its very success, the Baptist Union grew more
limited as an avenue of mobility for the working and lower class. It was during this
period of the 1920s and 30s that Pentecostal churches, although they remained
relatively small at the time, secured themselves in Jamaican society. They came
as a series of individual initiatives, mainly from churches on the American eastern
seaboard beginning in the 1910s, and expanding in the 1920s and 30s. These
developments joined indigenous revival movements begun by Raglan Phillips in
Clarendon, and Mother J.C. Russell in Brown's Town, St. Anne. In the early years
they recruited their numbers from Baptists and Congregationalists, and from other
new revival sects including the British Salvationists. They came to a society in
which it'was now understood that churches should desist from overt Political
engagement with the state. As Americans, they were distanced in any case from a
colonial politics that bore little relation to their home base. They also entered a
society in which the state was now directing elementary education. They were,
moreover, organizations entirely disassociated from Jamaica's past. As a conse-
quence, they could not reproduce the Baptist role in Jamaica. Rather, they
embodied a transformation of the role of an institutionally powerful sect partially
funded from a foreign source and disseminating a radical Christian ideology. This
ideology concerned the transcendental power of God and the ultimate, millenial
transformation of the world. Pentecostalism built on Methodist Armenianism and
the Baptists' believer's confession to make the key to personal well-being a ritual
redemption even more consuming that its Baptist counterpart. Pentecostalism
also offered to Jamaicans a message that decisively integrated spiritual and
corporeal redemption. Pentecostalism cured in a radical way by reconstituting the
person as a saint who could receive spiritual healing, and the moral power to be a
sinless being in everyday life. The offer of a major status reversal to people left
behind by the upward mobility of the Baptist church was undoubtedly very appeal-
ing. With the state now controlling education, the atypical exclusion of Pentecostal
churches from most areas of education had the effect of intensifying their transcen-
dental view of the world. Pentecostalism offered to many Jamaicans the opportu-
nity to engage in ritual healing forms that could radically transform their status into
that of a chosen spiritual elite; and all Within a missionary church endorsed by a
metropolitan power.
The institutional embodiment of a Baptist world came through theologizing
elementary education and creating a close articulation between the organization of
churches and social mobility through education (cf. Miller 1986:27, 49). For the
Pentecostalists the route was rather different, but not unconnected with the history
of the Baptists. At the turn of the century, and in response to state policy, places
for men in elementary teacher training colleges were reduced. There was a very
significant shift to the training of women teachers with the stated intention of

economizing teacher training (Miller 1986:35-61). As a consequence three male
teachers' colleges were closed between 1877 and 1890 when the Baptists de-
cided, in addition, to close the teacher training arm of Calabar College (Miller
1986:10-2). Given the special status of the male rural teacher as a local notary and
d'oyen of culture, this was a decisive development cutting off a route to male
mobility largely created by the mission churches. In conjunction with the mobility of
the Baptist church, it also undercut the institutional nexus that had sustained a
world of mission Christianity as a major milieu of lower class leadership. This was,
in addition, the period of Jamaican labour migrations opened up by the Panama
Canal construction, by opportunities in Cuba, and the expansion of banana planta-
tions in Costa Rica (Roberts 1957:133-410). These were opportunities, however,
for labouring men and not for black lower class men with a modest education
seeking to better themselves in Jamaica and often financially unable to pursue
further secondary education. These men, like the majority of Jamaican women
engaged in rural and service occupations, also remained peripheral to Jamaica's
nascent union movement (Post 1977:114-58; French and Ford-Smith 1986; French
1988; Austin Broos 1991). When Pentecostalism began to expand, it was from
among these rural and urban Jamaicans, beyond the process of proletarianization,
that the movement recruited its leaders and followers. While the followers were
women in the majority, the leaders would be mainly men. And the churches offered
to these men alternative structural means of mobility.
In the group that would become the New Testament Church of God, it was
only the overseer at the beginning who was actually financed from America. In
time this would extend to head office staff, and to county and district overseers,
though pastors have always been dependent on their churches (Conn 1959:66;
Arscott 1971:21). Yet, as the movement built, it was one in which individual
evangelists could rapidly develop their own church group. This group accepted
tithing as a spiritual duty and thereby sustained a modest income for the pastor. In
return, affiliation with America brought assistance with the construction of churches
and even personal aid through welfare appeals. Affiliation with one of the Ameri-
can missionary groups was advantageous for evangelists. A Jamaican evangelist
with no formal qualifications could in time be accredited as a minister, and thereby
avoid both the charges of 'obeah' and 'sedition' that beset the evangelist Alexander
Bedward (see Chevannes 1971). From 1917 on, for instance, the Pentecostal
Assemblies of the World issued a ministerial certificate to ministers and pastors in
the field (Golder 1973:46). An early Jamaican unitarian Pentecostalist, George
White, was issued with such an accr,.ditation and with it built the foundations of
Jamaica's first Apostolic Union, to be realized by his wife, Melvina White. This
allowed these mostly male aspirant ministers to circumvent both the power of the
state and its intersection with the older mission or denominational churches in their
control of ministerial accreditations. The American churches brought to pastors
and their followers the symbolic capital of a regional power standing outside the
British colonial world. In this process, regional mobility and printed media from

North America were crucial. It was through the mission columns of American
publications, and especially through the columns of the Church of God Evangel,
that Jamaicans advertised their cause, and appealed for support from the Ameri-
can churches. Rudolph Smith, possibly Jamaica's most successful early trinitarian
Pentecostal evangelist, wrote to Tennessee in 1936,
There is a strong determination in me to see
Jamaica move up to the front. For years, head-
quarters has spent hundreds of dollars over here
and the work has never taken on a proper stand
as other fields The total number of organized
churches over here is 18 along with four new
fields not set in order as yet.
I have travelled 800 miles since my last writing. I
ride a horse in many cases, and I go otherwise by
train and bus. The means of riding on a horse is
very tiresome and slow going. I haven't a car yet,
but if I owned one I could make much more pro-
gress. I wonder if any of my American brothers or
sisters would dedicate one to this needed Call.
The zeal of Jamaicans in 'planting' and building churches was aided by an
American view very different from the first round of British missionaries. A.J.
(Ambrose) Tomlinson, founder of the Church of God and then leader of its break-
away group, the Church of God of Prophecy, made this observation in 1929.
We could have a dozen churches on [Jamaica], I
believe, in three or four months with the proper
skilled workmen that know the people and the
methods to use to gather them into the fold.
I do not advise that any of our people from the
states go to these Islands. The natives (sic) can
do much better than we can and at less expense.
They understand their people and the natives
understand them. Their need is means to help
with their expenses.16
The more, highly organized and bureaucratized base organization of the
Church of God that sponsored the Jamaican New Testament church was rather
more tempered. They maintained a white American overseer in Jamaica until 1974
and a small group of white mission staff. The pastors were, however, overwhelm-
ingly Jamaican.

Both Rudolph Smith and George White came from small farmer back-
grounds in northern Clarendon and St. Elizabth respectively. They had received
good elementary educations and travelled to Kingston in the late 1910s to obtain
modest service employment. White delivered bread on a bike for a bakery. They
were converted in Kingston by two of the earliest Pentecostal evangelists, the
American Nina Stapleton and the fair-skinned Jamaican Mother Russell, and then
returned to proselytize the country. Each one built substantial organizations, and
in conjunction with Henry Hudson, who was converted early by Rudolph Smith and
evangelised for the New Testament church, founded a movement that had spread
through the parishes by the 1940s.
The outcome of this process today is seen in some major Jamaican
Pentecostal churches that articulate closely with an international network. It is
common in the largest New Testament Church of God for promising ministers who
have received initial training from their own theological college to complete a
master's degree at Cleveland Tennessee. Through this process, a reservoir of
historical and self interpretation, of local experience and black theology, has been
stored in the metropolitan centre. The Church of God of Prophecy has major
connections both in Cleveland and in England where migrant Jamaicans from the
1950s built a large church organization (see Calley 1965). Its current overseer in
Jamaica was previously overseer for the British church. He is a son of one of
Smiths early converts who also evangelised in Clarendon. This church also has
connections in Cleveland, sustained as much by personal networks as they are by
institutional affiliations. Other church leaders in Jamaica travel regularly to Amer-
ica to lecture churches and conferences on the method of missionary practice.
Roswith Gerloff, a British resident of Jamaican descent, has become a major
theologian of Black Pentecostalism in Britain (Gerloff 1991). Her book, subtitled
'The Black Church Movement in Britain in its transatlantic cultural and theological
interaction' speaks to the internationalism of this milieu. And this tenor of Jamaican
Pentecostatism eddies into local churches. The three largest Jamaican churches
have extensions or affiliates both in England and North America. It is likely that if a
church member travels to a major urban site for Jamaicans in either of these
metropolitan milieux, there will be a local church of their affiliation or else one
closely related to it. This network is registered in Jamaica by the common pres-
ence in Sunday congregations of Jamaicans, mostly women, returned home to
visit, who bring greetings from their overseas congregations. Greetings is an
established section inthe services of many congregations. The Jamaican congre-
gations and their overseas counterpa; ts thereby embody an institutional network
that supplements kin connections as many Jamaicans and especially women,
move between societies. Church sisters and brothers within Jamaica aid each
other in finding employment, and especially in densely populated Kingston, form
tightly knit networks of mutual aid. It is likely that in some degree these networks
are replicated overseas.

The institutional articulation of Pentecostal churches realizes in the twenti-
eth century elements of potential in the mission organizations that came to Jamaica
in the years prior to emancipation. They are vehicles for an international mobility
that operates for Jamaicans at a number of levels. They are thereby exemplars of
a twentieth century modernity foreshadowed in the totality of Jamaican history that
began with forms of forced migration and continued with the mediation of the
population by trans-national mission organizations. These new mission churches
of the twentieth century broke a certain nexus between church and state that was
manifest in the British mission churches. They no longer had a sense of the
'civilizing mission' over and above evangelism. They did not especially identify
with Jamaican politics and arrived at a time when the state had largely taken over
education. Yet they offered modes of organization and a construction of the world
that was real to those many Jamaicans, and especially to Jamaican women, who
were distant from a proletarian world and its negotiations between unions, parties
and the state. Both the mainly male pastors and the women saints thereby have a
sense of real benefit from structures sustained by the churches and largely inde-
pendent of government. And integral to this experience has been the reproduction
of established local meanings. The Pentecostal movement in Jamaica constituted
churches as communities of the saved in which the basis for collective experience
was a spiritual and moral transformation given meaning by reference to a transcen-
dental God. Whilst their followers experienced the structural disadvantage of racial
hierarchy and class division, they nevertheless came together as an empowered
collectivity under the rubric of 'a church' (cf. Bourdieu 1991). They understood
themselves to be, at the outset, among Jamaica's poorer citizens who were black
and thereby discriminated against. Yet, they ultimately came to construe this
experience in terms of a 'chosen' people 'humble in spirit.' Jamaican Pentecostals
then and now see the divisions of race and class, but facing these divisions their
collective empowering comes through the ethos of the church which focuses on
moral reconstruction of the person and the spiritual resolution of the Second
Weber can be invoked to characterize the Pentecostals as people dis-
posed to a salvation religion (Weber 1968:486-500) However, not all Christian
cultures that are modern states sustain this form of salvation religion or with
Jamaica's enthusiasm. Here three additional factors are important: the uneven
capacity of the state to act as a structuring power in social life; the expanding
structures of foreign churches partially funded from abroad; and the corresponding
forms of collectivity in which Jamaicans have been involved. The Baptists secured
a certain role for the church and for religion in Jamaica when they, along with other
mission churches, became largely responsible for education. Institutionally, they
structured peoples' lives and thereby embodied the practice of an ideology that
advocated trust in God and assimilation to metropolitan life. This they achieved at
least in part because notwithstanding the colonial state's power to co-ordinate
economic and social initiatives, that power was less often used to foster the welfare

of the lower classes (cf. Stone 1991:93). When this state became independent it
simply did not have the resources to offer services to its people on the scale of
some other western democracies. Though always retaining significant power, the
modern state has thus continued as an uneven presence in Jamaican life. The
Pentecostal movement expanded in the period of transition from colonial to post-
colonial society. The type of institutional role played by the Baptists was in fact
taken over by the state. Nevertheless, Pentecostalism offered forms of association
beyond the state, and practical structures within Jamaica that remained important
to its followers. It thereby brings a collective alternative to other collectivist render-
ings of life such as those that might be found in a union or a political party. Where
the latter collectivities construct a reality for their followers based on the power of
man and his legal institutions to control or re-arrange the goods of society, the
collectivities of Pentecostalism address the dilemmas of the person by proposing a
moral reconstitution guided and informed by God's spiritual power (cf. Weber
1968:4846; Sombart 1906:77-9). These operations on the person become mani-
fest in a collective discipline that sometimes aids mobility both within and beyond
Jamaica. All these factors come together to create a plausibility base in which the
appeal to God, and especially to Jesus as Redeemer and Saviour, is an eminently
real resort in life. An account of some saintly mobilities in the church, and of a
discourse from the pulpit on the state, give a sense of this world as it is experienced
by the Pentecostalist. In this experience, issues of race and class are engaged,
but interpreted according to a transcendental logic. The state or 'government' is
represented as peripheral to the problems that beset the saints.
Pentecostal Redemption and the Failure of the State
Case 1: The career of a pastor I shall call 'Alvin Downes' should not be
taken as a typical career of a minister in Jamaica's New Testament Church of God.
The church is Jamaica's largest Pentecostal body with 337 churches and 65,000
saved and sanctified members. This latter figure bears only a limited relation either
to the phenomenon of religious affiliation for census purposes, or to weekly church
attendance. The figure does not mark weekly attendees, but only those who have
been transformed into saints. Regular attendees at New Testament churches
could be more than double this figure. The church has assets in Jamaica equiva-
lent to around US$16 million. It sustains 62 basic or pre-school centres and two
old-age homes for Pentecostalists. The church maintains a pension plan for
ministers, and also funeral assistance and life insurance programmes. In 1991 it
had 53 retired ministers on pensions. Within the church are a number of influential
Pentecostal families most of whom are second generation Pentecostalists. Some
of these families have close links with America. A past island overseer, for
instance, left his permanent residence in Florida to return to be the Jamaican
bishop. Others among this particular group have tertiary qualifications from Amer-
ica, sometimes from Cleveland Tennessee, but also from universities in Indiana
and Florida. There is a stratification within the organization that is still fairly fluid in
its personnel but is nevertheless evident at island-wide conventions, and at island-

wide ministers' meetings. Depending on the families from which ministers are
recruited, and their backgrounds in rural or urban milieux, their course and pros-
pects in the church can vary. Alvin Downes would stand, not at the base of this
Pentecostal hierarchy, but rather in its middle reaches. The nature of his career in
this institutional context demonstrates the significance of this Pentecostal milieu for
young men like Downes from a poor rural background who aspire to mobility
through the church.
When I knew him Pastor Alvin Downes lived in upper Clarendon where he
was district overseer for 5 churches. He lived with his wife, a fellow evangelist, who
also was trained as a primary school teacher. Pastor and Sister Downes had two
young children and two other relatives residing with them. One was a young boy
who was the son of a cousin of Sister Downes. The other was the Pastor's younger
half brother. He had been involved in gang activity in Kingston and had been jailed
for a number of months prior to his mother sending him to stay with her elder son.
The new arrival had been recently saved, but his commitment was questionable
and the pastor watched him with a cautious eye. Both these boys like Sister
Downes and her children called the pastor 'Sir' in the household.
Alvin Downes pastored two churches in his district preaching at them on
alternate Sundays. He also preached in the early afternoon for a missionary
outreach group that met in the yard of one of his members. During the week, the
pastor visited the other churches in his charge, often walking long distances. He
kept fairly close associations with the three young pastors who each led one of
these other churches. He acted to assist them and guide them in their work. With
two of these men he was especially friendly. They sometimes visited during the
evening and helped the pastor with a small sedan car that had been out of order for
quite a long time. Members of his own and other district churches regularly visited
the pastor's house with gifts in kind from their cultivations. These included yams,
green bananas, avocado pear, breadfruit and a small variety of citrus. The meat
component of the pastor's meals was negligible, but the household did not want for
sustaining food. Once a month he travelled to Kingston to return his district tithes
and other takings. At this time he would report to the island overseer or bishop on
the spiritual and financial welfare of his district. When he returned from these
visits, always in time for the Sunday services, he generally brought small presents
for his children. Pastor Downes was a man in his later thirties. He was dark-
skinned, cheerful and a forceful preacher and frequently accompanied the church
with his guitar. He was popular in his district and particularly solicitous of some of
the older women saints one of whom had donated land for a church. He was
known to be able at healing and exorcism and often offered sermons in the popular
style called 'preaching sin' that focused on the horrors of a fallen life. His
aspiration was to become a full-time evangelist for the church. Pastor Downes
believed that if he were allowed to work freely in Kingston he could 'plant' at least
four churches in a year. He found the 'book-keeping' side of his work onerous, and

believed that his real contribution was spiritual. The following is my gloss on his
account of his career.
Pastor Downes began with the observation that
his mother was not married to his father. She had
had children by other men and he had had chil-
dren by other women. So the youth in his house-
hold was a half-brother only. His mother was a
small-scale country higgler and his father had
been a "mechanic." He had grown in a village in
the parish of St. Mary and there attended All-Age
school. After his schooling was finished, he
stayed on as a "monitor" to help the teacher.
There was very little work in that part of the par-
He was saved when he was seventeen years old
and after that event he acquired a job. He worked
as an assistant in a dry goods shop; cleaning,
lifting, carrying and serving the customers. He
was paid Ja$7.00 a week in his first year, rising to
Ja$14.00 in his second year. He complained to
his employer about his wage but nothing
changed. He was offered employment in another
shop, and when he started they paid him Jam.00
a week. The money was better, but he had al-
ready received a calling to the ministry. He was a
deacon in his local church and he used the extra
money to buy his guitar. He then asked the pas-
tor if the church would assist him in his desire to
attend Bethel Bible College where he could train
as a Pentecostal minister. The pastor, however,
said that there were no funds. The church was a
very poor community.

God led Pastor Downes to "put pen to paper." He
wrote to a great uncle in Portland, whom he had
never seen, and told him of his calling to the
ministry. The uncle himself was a born-again
Christian and agreed to fund Downes through
Bible College.

At the College Downes was "miserable." The food
was particularly poor and he missed the meals
provided by his mother. He found the first year
classes difficult and then developed a stomach
ulcer. He was spitting blood. He was very sick
just before his first year comprehensive exams.
The exams were dreadful and he did very poorly.
He went home to St. Mary, assuming that that
would be the end of his ministerial career. He
consulted a doctor on his stomach ulcer, but the
doctor's medicine did not help.
Finally, he prayed to the Father for direction and
the pain from the stomach ulcer went away. He
did not experience any more bleeding. Soon af-
ter he received a letter from the College saying
that inspite of his poor results they were prepared
to allow him to return. From that time on, he had
little trouble handling the course.
His first ministry was in Clarendon in a church that
was very badly run down; less than thirty mem-
bers and very few tithes. Sometimes his income
was only Ja$14.00 a month. The saints did give
him gifts in kind. The church had only half a roof.
There were no windows and the floor was dirt. A
large tree growing beside the church was crack-
ing the walls with its roots. Gradually he built up
that church, though it was a very difficult experi-
ence. It was the Lord who really showed him the

He met his wife on a visit to a pastor friend in
St.Thomas and they were married by the younger
brother of the bishop of the time. Downes' church
could not maintain a married couple so headquar-
ters moved him to Trelawney to pastor two
churches there. Giving him this responsibility
was also a way of testing him. His first child was
born there and after two years he was moved to

In Hanover, he had three churches to pastor. It
was during this period that he bought an old Lan-
drover. The roads were very bad over there and
he had to move about a lot.

He also cultivated a vegetable garden with pump-
kins, red peas and even tomatoes. He was living
in a very good yam area and church members
offered him plenty of yam. After he had been in
Hanover for a time, friends said that he was being
considered for a district pastor's job. He did not
believe that this was possible, but he said "Let the
will of God be done.'
He was called to headquarters and offered his
present position in Clarendon. He really found it
very surprising and blessed the Lord for blessing
him. He sold his Landrover and bought a small
sedan but the car had been a constant problem.
He would prefer to live elsewhere in Jamaica,
especially if he could become an evangelist in
Kingston. Then perhaps, he could travel over-
seas to America, and even to Australia. Every-
body he met agreed that Jamaicans were the
best evangelists.
Pastor Downes and his wife both came to the church from impoverished
backgrounds. Their career together had included hardships. Yet the pastor had
high status in his district that was marked even within his household. In his trips to
Kingston, Pastor Downes was careful to cultivate members of one of the families
that is influential in-the church. The social distance between him and them seemed
barely to bother him and he reserved his class antipathy for members of the middle
class who were outside Pentecostalism. He said of some members of the Anglican
church resident in a nearby town that they would always 'pass by' his 'little church.'
He continued,
They can go to some place else where they can
go do the little dance, they can drink their little
rum, they can curse their bad words, they can
smoke cigarette, same way, they can live their
fornication and their adultery life same way, and
when they done they gwine communion and they
say, "Why mus' I come an' tie myself down?"

The bitterness of these observations, and others, left no doubt concerning
the pastor's sentiments on social class. The important factor in his eyes, however,
was that wealth brought moral degradation, and with, it, degradation of religion.
Overcoming the man-made degradation of wealth was a religious and not a secular
matter. He pointed to Pentecostalists whom he considered 'wealthy' men. In
these cases wealth and position were used to further the interests of the church.
Pastor Downes saw his own career as occurring entirely within the church; the
milieu in which God's will could guide his upward mobility. He sought to learn from
his better placed friends and remarked to me on one occasion that God was the
one who had put him 'in touch' with people of influence in the church. Pastor
Downes could be disappointed in his career or proceed from one success to
another. In either case it is very likely that his own account will mark each chapter
simply as the will of God frustrated, perhaps, only by the actions of sinful people
whether within or beyond the church.
Case II: A unitarian Pentecostal Bishop once related to me with consider-
able feeling the conduct of some white missionaries he had encountered in his
years as a pastor. I later noted his observations.
"Bishop Williams' said that he did not see why
Americans less educated and of lesser social
standing, and also less inspired with the Holy
Spirit, should come in and be placed over Jamai-
cans. These people would come and sit at your
table and behave as though they had no man-
ners. They would look at your food and push it
aside if it looked a little bit different from theirs.
When you go to America and you have to sit
down at a table, perhaps the food is not well
cooked, not properly cooked, and perhaps the
food is a little too oily. You try to eat as much as
you can so that you would not offend the person.
No way these Americans. They would not think
to do it like that.
They insisted that the choirs be robed and that
everything be done in an American way. The
attitude was different in Jamaica, because even if
a person came in barefoot to the church, and
received the Holy Spirit, Jamaicans would praise
the Lord for him. Jamaicans accepted Pente-
costalism because they already lived in a spirit-
filled world. They were African themselves. They
were emotional. They liked rhythm in their wor-

ship, pipe and drum, and they knew what it was to
be Spirit-filled from the days of the Great Revival
[1860-611. The whole world of Jamaica was
busy with spirits so the message of the Holy Spirit
was welcome. Americans didn't need to tell Ja-
maicans that.
The bishop had begun his Pentecostal career as a boy in Melvina White's
Emmanuel Tabernacle in Kingston. He had later joined the United Pentecostal
Church (UPC) established in Jamaica in 1947 The parent organization, he be-
lieves, rejected him for study in America mainly due to the colour of his skin. In
1971 he left the UPC and developed his own ministry in St. Anne. He supported
himself as an electrician while he was building his church organization. Ultimately
he established a strong Jamaican base and made contact in America with black
Unitarians who had been associated with the integrated but increasingly black
Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. His own Jamaican 'fellowship' grew to 26
churches, with one further church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He became part of
an international mission organization sponsored by black Unitarians in America.
Bishop Williams emphasized that the Pentecostal movement in Jamaica had been
built largely by Jamaicans. Missionaries in the UPC who had come to Jamaica
after the war had in fact 'inherited' churches.
I built churches with pick axe and crow-bar.
Brethren would come to work and you pick up the
tools after they left. I used to cry, I was so alone.
I had no facilities. Then I walked nine miles to go
to service and nine miles back. But when a per-
son caught the Spirit I always feel such a thrill.
Even with the suffering, you just enjoy it.
Bishop William's interpretation of the racial conflict in the Pentecostal
church appealed to the superior spirituality of Africans. This, he proposed, was
something God had given as a special gift to African culture. His belief that blacks
were 'spiritual' before whites pertained to his view that only Pentecostals are truly
Biblical Christians. New World Africans had been better prepared for the revela-
tions of Pentecostalism than whites who still sustained racial prejudice. The battle
against racism was thus a spiritual battle in which 'proper law,' as the bishop
described it, did not obviate the need for moral and spiritual reconstruction even of
people who called themselves 'Christian.
The racial cleavage in American unitarian Pentecostalism is marked by a
separation of organizations. Within the larger trinitarian churches there is division
within the organizations which are also marked by largely white central administra-
tions (cf. Anderson 1979:191). The missionary contact with Jamaica has been
mostly through white personnel. Within the Church of God of Prophecy an oral

tradition tells of Rudolph Smith refusing to travel to America at all following visits in
the mid-1930s that brought him face to face with segregation. This oral tradition
also proposes that when Smith died, in 1974, after 40 years of leading his Jamai-
can church, he died of a stroke because the headquarters church had deprived his
colleague, Alvin Moss in the Bahamas, of leadership of the church he had built
there. Moss later led the Jamaican church. In 1971 the Reverend Lindsay Arscott
wrote advocating 'indigenization' for the New Testament Church of God. He
argued, like Bishop Williams, that 'the actual work of evangelism was done largely
by nationals,' and also observed that the Book of Acts testified amply that 'the
indigenous church is a Biblical concept' (Arscott 1971:40). Although the New
Testament church has been self-governing since 1974, there are still organiza-
tional conflicts with the Cleveland Tennessee church. Some within the Jamaican
church would prefer a Caribbean conference rather than travelling annually to
America to a conference in which they are merely bystanders to a group that is
mainly American. One recent observation within the church has been that the
American Church of God, with in fact a majority of churches that are black, is
reluctant for Caribbean autonomy lest it create a breakaway in its own organiza-
Pentecostals perceive class and race divisions. They experience them as
part of their practice both within and beyond the church. Their rendering of this
experience, however, is informed by a view that real Christianity and Christian-
based community is the only medium to transcend these divisions. When experi-
ence of division occurs in the church its source is seen to be man-made rules that
are in fact obstructive of the will of God. This view, which is integral to Jamaican
religious culture, was first endorsed by the early missionaries who stood as
advocates for the slaves at the time of emancipation. In the free village scheme,
they also proposed a pragmatics for realizing alternative community. Notwith-
standing the missionaries' own limitations, Jamaica's revival Christianity has sus-
tained this image of a God-governed world beyond the divisions of race and class.
Marcus Garvey foreshadowed this community in his preamble to the UNIA consti-
One God! One Aim! One Destiny! let justice
be done to all mankind, realizing that if the strong
oppress the weak confusion and discontent will
ever mark the path of men, but with love, faith and
charity toward all the reign of peace and plenty
will be heralded into the world and the generation
of men shall be called blessed. (Hill 198385:256)
This hope for the millennium is expressed in a very different way by the poet
Claude McKay, returning to religion from a life of political critique. He proposes not
the millennium, but a personal redemption from temporal life.

Around me roar and crash the paganisms To
which most of my life was consecrate,
Betrayed by evil men and torn by schisms
to God I go to make my peace, Where black
nor white can follow to betray.
My pent-up heart to Him I will release And surely
He will show the perfect way
Of life.... (McKay 1953:49)
These images, so integral to Jamaica's tradition of revival Christianity, are
not peculiar to Pentecostalism but inserted by Jamaicans into their Pentecostalism.
It is the strength of this utopian critique and of an experienced spirituality that
underscores scepticism concerning the power of the state to act constructively in
everyday life.
Case III. The entreaty to Pentecostal saints not to place their faith in
politics, but rather to align with the church, is a common Pentecostal pulpit theme.
In this, Pentecostal pastors make a bid for leadership even beyond the community
of saints. In so doing, they offer a particular rendering of Jamaican historical
experience. They suggest a progress for the saints that parallels a reading of
history familiar to the nationalist cause. That reading proposes that a union and
nationalist movement uplifted the black and the poor. It finally defined as irrelevant
and dead the spurious notion of a genetic inheritance that denied citizenship to a
people. The pastors' rendering of Pentecostalism proceeds by a similar logic. Sin
like blackness was an inherited trait of the African in thrall. It is a trait that can
finally be dissolved in the born again experience. Thereafter the human being
emerges spiritually whole, or holy, able to lead a saintly life. This reading of a
Jamaican progress is especially attractive for male Pentecostal pastors whose
class position has often debarred them from the political arena. Their exhortations
to the saints assert the pre-eminence of transcendental power over temporal or
political power. The following gloss of an exhortation from a prominent Kingston
pastor demonstrates just how explicit this call to religion over politics can be.
Politicians have not brought us to our roots. We
need somebody who cannot fail and His name is
Jesus. We need to discover our mission, dis-
cover our roots, discover ourselves. Imagine the
transformation of this society if we Jamaicans
made all these discoveries. We have been
searching for our heritage, but guns have de-
stroyed our search.

There will rise up a people who one day forget
about the party they belong to. Tell our politicians

that we don' wan' no more guns. We don' wan'
more tribal war. We don' wan' more Tivoli and
Rema. We need to stop this rubbish in our coun-
try. We cannot live much longer in this way of life.
God has blessed our nation. God has given us
strong and capable leaders. But while we praise
them, it is to us that God has entrusted the task of
arousing our people spiritually.
I remember when Busta and Norman Manley
were campaigning in the hills of St. Mary. They
use the same platform. They meet in the same
square. Any time our leaders caan' sit down, don'
try impress "Brother Bryan" that yu' livin' right.
Our nation is wounded and it must be healed.
The day of mana falling is over. God gives us the
strength and the land and the way mana gwine
fall is for us to produce on the land.

We will always under value ourselves until
through God's Grace we identify our roots. We
would go to Africa looking' where we came, and
they in Africa looking' to trace where they came,
until they trace their roots to Adam.

We are all his offspring. The great Creator, the
universe declares, we are his offspring. There
are certain principles that govern his [Adam's]
offspring: I'm a child of God. I have to live like a
child of God. I'm born again. I must live free from
sin. Holiness must be our watchword, righteous-
ness our password. Repentance must be our
aim. That's the only thing that can bring us back
to our roots.

This day I ask you again. To whom are you
connected? Of whom are you an offspring?
Have you found your roots?
This textual subversion of a nationalist message is common in Pentecostal
churches. It does not reject the themes of politics, but -rather places them in a
cosmological frame that promotes a reference point beyond the state. Redemp-
tion, an image brought by the missionaries and captured by Jamaica's political
process, is here re-owned by the Pentecostal church as a truly transcendental

experience. Nothing could demonstrate more effectively than Kingston's down-
town neighbourhood violence the limitations of the Jamaican state in seeking to
provide a desirable life for all its people. The Pentecostal pastor fixes on this point,
and whilst he does not contest the national founders, he does contest the legiti-
macy of those who have inherited the founders' mantle. In one deft stroke politics
is made subordinate to the spiritual world, and the issues of class and race are
subsumed in the overriding condition of man as sinner and responsible for his fate.
The Pentecostals become the chosen people who will lead their fellows out of the
bondage of secular society with its failed politicians. The sign that they are indeed
the chosen people is their ability to live a holy life even in the midst of violence and
The Jamaican Pentecostal view of the world is grounded in historical
experience (cf. Smith 1976:315, 339). These forms continue, as they transform,
earlier aspects of colonial Jamaica pertaining to relations between churches and
the state. Through their notions of heaven and the Second Coming, Pentecostals
promote a critique of Jamaica including its divisions of class and race. That
critique, however, turns devout Pentecostals not to active political engagement but
rather to redoubled efforts to morally re-constitute the sell In this, the transcenden-
tal assumption that human society is inevitably corrupt, and that only a God-given
realm will be just, make their perceptions and practices something different from a
secular politics. In all of this the 'image' of Redemption becomes a major cultural
motif, an 'argument' with Jamaica's historical experience. This is an image in
Jamaica, however, that also has a politics. Jamaicans imbibe modernity, and in
that condition live between their local milieux and an array of metropolitan struc-
tures strung together through continual migration (cf. Foner 1978). In this condi-
tion, many Jamaicans of Pentecostal persuasion have neither the experience of
controlling these structures, nor the structures of their own small state. The
transcendentalism of their redemption complements this historical experience and
embodies the cosmology of a people, modern and yet not simply 'the citizens' of a
state. Those Jamaicans who can more fully define their lives in these latter terms
can also embrace a secular politics rendered as a 'history of freedom.' Rastafarian-
ism is, in organizational terms, a more local religion than Pentecostalism. In
identifying the Christian Saviour with Europe, Rasta renders the power of the state
and its metropolitan network as forces for evil in its cosmological order. Rastafari-
ans become Jamaica's 'renouncers,' radically inverting the forms of hierarchy
involved in Jamaican conceptions of race. No less transcendental than the Pente-
costalists, they launch a more telling critique, but from a more limited institutional
I began this discussion with some observations on the divergent perspec-
tives of Jamaican informants and it is now appropriate to return to this issue, but in
a rather more general vein. A number of writers have remarked on the forms of

secularization that followed the development of capitalism and its legal and admin-
istrative institutions. These writers have also remarked on the fact that this secu-
larization very often involved the acceptance of man rather than God as the
measure of things in social life (Sombart 1906:75ff.; Weber 1968:484-6; Dumont
1977:11-44; de Certeau 1988; cf. Austin-Broos 1987a). Sombart and Weber, in
particular, focus on markets in the modern state that give even workers a singular
sense that it is man rather than God that controls social life. Weber describes the
emerging perception that 'power relationships [are] guaranteed by law rather than
by transcendental forms (Weber 1968:485). It is such perceptions, these writers
propose, that undermine religion as an integrating truth. In this milieu, people need
not be entirely atheistic. Rather, in the words of de Certeau, church membership
becomes pluralized and relativizedd.' These memberships in turn become 'contin-
gent' and 'partial' rather than a unifying truth of life (de Certeau 1988:149). De
Certeau's reading of Weber's Protestant ethic is consistent with this typification.
The shift from rite to a focus on ethics introduces the notion of 'a theory of
behaviours' as a principal focus for religion rather than a statement of cosmological
order. In time, Christianity largely becomes subservient to political forms; trans-
formed, it becomes 'a sacred theater of the system that will take its place' (de
Certeau 1988:157). This brief genealogy of modern denominations is challenged
by Pentecostalism which, beginning as a sect in Yinger's sense, can expand to
become a large organization that claims the status of a universal church (Yinger
1946:19, 555-60; cf. Simpson 1956:339-341; and Wilson 1961). The latter claim
rests on the-treatment of religion as an integrative truth, and of Pentecostals as the
only church, along with a muted hostility to the state. The various arms of the
Protestant Reformation found it impossible, in the age of secular states, to assert
themselves as a universal religion. Twentieth century American evangelical sects
that have populated the less developed world present, however, a different pros-
pect. They present a return to revelatory truth that makes their morality subordi-
nate to rite. They are chihastic and conversionist, and concerned with
thaumaturgic practice (Wilson 1975: 22-5). Believing in the essential corruption of
man, they also believe that man-made laws and their attendant institutions are
themselves invariably corrupt unless brought under the governance of God. When
a rapidly expanding religion of this type is situated in a society where the structuring
power of the state is limited by economic and cultural conditions, the reality of that
religious milieu, both in organizational and. ideological terms, can become a central
organizing truth for at least a proportion of its adherents. This has been the case
in Jamaica where the notion of a Saviour is extremely real and Redemption is a
dominant motif.


*1 gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Elizabeth Pigou of the University of the West Indies,
Mona, with newspaper research in Jamaica. The research project has been funded through
grants from the Australian Research Council, 1986-7, and from the University of Sydney, 1991.
1. My initial household survey through which I recruited informants for longer interviews had no ques-
tion on religion. I therefore do not know if Pentecostals declined further interviews. However,
given their prevalence in one of my research sites, the neighbourhood I called 'Selton Town,' it
is likely that this could have occurred. It is also not surprising to me now that Pentecostals might
have declined to be engaged in university-inspired interviews that might have led to discussions
of politics.
2. The structural bases for the continuing ambiguity of 'education' in Jamaican ideology is found in
Gordon's summation of the changes, and lack of change, in educational opportunity that have
occurred in Jamaica in the post-war period. In 1991 Gordon observed, 'Slightly over 10 percent
of the earliest cohort, which reached high school age between 1936 and 1945, gained entrance
to high school. By the most recent cohort this had doubled, to slightly less than 20 percent.
Practically all the increase occurred after the introduction of the Common Entrance exams in
1957 But the figures also underline the extremely high barrier at the secondary level, which lim-
its access to high school education for most Jamaicans.' And again, 'The main beneficiary of the
Common Entrance system is the brown middle class. While the children of the black working
class have been narrowing the traditional gap between themselves and the children of the
brown working classes, and between themselves and the children of the black middle classes,
fight-skinned middle class children have been extending their advantages over both light-
skinned working class and black middle class children' (Gordon 1991:191, 205).
3. The issue of the relation between 'race' and 'class' as interpretative symbols for Jamaicans remains
a vexed and continually debated issue (see Alexander 1977; R.T Smith 1982, 1992; Austin-
Broos 1988). Alexander asserts that his middle class informants 'had no difficulty' in distinguish-
ing 'class interests' from issues of race, meaning by the latter the 'racial [including colour shade]
description' of a relative (Alexander 1977:430). The issue is, however, that both class and racial
idioms can be deployed to talk about kinds of being in Jamaica. When Jamaicans' own con-
struction of the historical past sees race conjoined with issues of class there is a tendency in
these discussions of kinds of person to collapse notions of class into race. Alexander makes an
important point when he observes that an implication of the Jamaican system is the view that, in-
trinsically, races will sustain 'distinctive life styles and power positions' which only as a contin-
gent fact of history are manifest in hierarchical relations. However, the 'distinctive style and
power' of different groups were in fact ranked in Jamaica and it is in everyday reflections on this
past that intrinsic and contingent characteristics, as well as issues of class and race, can be col-
lapsed in a single idiom. Middle class people, often having experienced mobility themselves
and mindful of a colonial past which they themselves have superseded, rather seldom mix these
idioms. This is not to say, however, that the implicit models they sustain of the kinds of people
in a class, and especially in the lower class, do not sometimes call on ascriptive models con-
cerned with slavery and being black that might be seen as a racialist model (see Austin/Austin-
Broos 1979,1984, 1988). Working and lower class people more often conjoin the idioms of race
and class collapsing their accounts of a contingent history into accounts of the forms of inevita-
ble racialism that have sustained them as a class in a subordinate position. This idiom switching
in the lower class among people who have experienced little or no individual mobility is indica-
tive of their historical experience which is different from the middle class. Alexander's research
offers a particular view from his focus on a 'middle class culture of race' confined almost entirely
to personal discrimination within the kin domain. This focus does not bring into play the deploy-
ment of race in articulations of Power that are also concerned with class arenas: at the work-
place, in education, in the ghettoizationn' of neighborhoods, or, for instance, in access to
emigration opportunities. In these arenas the continuing privilege and disprivilege of a ight-
skinned sector within the middle class and of a dark-skinned and less-skilled sector in the lower
class allow forms of colour-class discrimination on a different scale from those Alexander dis-

4. Orr (1949:190-2; 270-1) and Henderson (1931) give accounts of the engagement of orthodox Bap-
tists with revivalist tradition in nineteenth century Britain and in nineteenth and twentieth century
Jamaica, respectively.
5. Possibly one fifth of those registering as 'Church of God' would be affiliates of holiness churches in
Jamaica that accept the doctrine of being 'born again' without accepting glossolalia as a sign of
this transformation.
6. The dominant trinitarian missionary church in Jamaica became the Church of God of Clevelar
Tennessee. This church was involved in a fission in the United States that involved the creation
of two churches in Jamaica, the Church of God of Prophecy and the New Testament Church of
God. There are many other smaller Churches of God in Jamaica, and trinitarians generally iden-
tify with this name. Unitarians, who baptise only 'in the name of Jesus,' often have the term
'Pentecostal' or 'Apostolic' in their name. They very seldom use the title 'Church of God.'
7 The category 'Not Stated' is different again from the category Other in which minority groups, inclu(
ing Zion Revivalists, might locate themselves. 'Other' commanded a membership of 125,000.
These statistics came from preliminary aggregations of the Department of Statistics, Kingston,
Jamaica from the Jamaica Census, 1982.
8. Both Comaroff (1986) and Ong (1987), interestingly, deploy Foucaultian ideas as an adjunct to
Marx. For comment on this theoretical strategy, see Austin-Broos (1991).
9. The following interpretation is heavily indebted to Wilmott's two very useful accounts (Wilmott 1980
10. This bourgoeisification of the Jamaica Baptist Union is evidenced, for instance, in a letter to the
editor of the Jamaica Baptist Reporter, in the year 1929. A group of young clergy observed that,
'Many of our methods are antiquated and totally unsuitable to the growing generation. Strong in-
dividuals here and there who find themselves in helpful conditions may do much for individual
congregations, but the reforms for which we are pleading can best be obtained by the united
teaching and assistance of organized men.' (JBR, vol. 21, no. 241:5). This letter was one of a
number preliminary to greater centralization in Kingston of the Baptist Union's administration.
11. A fuller account of this early history, based on newspaper research, documents from the churches,
and oral accounts is to be found in my work-in-progress, 'Jamaica Genesis: religion, culture and
the Pentecostal Bride in an island society of the Caribbean.'
12. The expansion of the early Church of God in northern Clarendon was mainly at the expense of
Baptists and Congregationalists (pers. comm. Percival Graham). This area of Clarendon had
previously experienced the revivals of Raglan Phillips, then working with the Baptist church and
later to found the Kingston City Mission, Jamaica's first indigenous Pentecostal church. Prior to
his association with the Baptists, Raglan Phillips had been a Salvationist (Hobbs 1986:2-3) The
Church of God evangelist, Nina Stapleton, reported from Kingston in 1919 that 'most of our
members came from the Salvation Army in the slums and among the poorest and lowest
classes' (Evangel 1919, 10, 16:4).
13. Personal communication, Morris Golder, historian of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, in
Indianapolis, January 23, 1992. See also Golder (1973).
14. Two examples of this type of correspondence are that between Ivan Delevante of Kingston and
the Gospel Trumpet, organ of the holiness Church of God that preceded the Pentecostals into
the Jamaican field in 1907 (Graham n.d.:8). The second example is J. Wilson Bell's correspon-
dence with the Church of God Evangel, 1917, 8, 31:2 (cf. Conn 1959:61).
15. Rudolph Smith in The White Winged Messenger, 1936, 13, 11:2
16. A.J. Tomlinson in Cyclopedic Index of Assembly Minutes (1906-1949) of the Church of God p. 20'
17 The churches referred to here are the New Testament Church of God, the Church of God of
Prophecy, both trinitarian, and the United Pentecostal Church, unitarian. There are others in-
cluding the indigenous Kingston City Mission, Rehobath and Emmanuel Tabernacle as well as
the Foursquare Gospel churches that are in a similar position.
18. These details were provided for me in 1991 by the church's island overseer, Reverend FA. Bea-

19. The Unitarian or 'oneness' movement in America has been marked by racial fissions. Anderson
(1979:187-191) and Golder (1973:139) discuss these.
20. The Church of God in Christ which has become America's largest black trinitarian Pentecostal
church, was actively missionizing in Jamaica during 1926 and 1927 (see for instance, The Daily
Gleaner, Friday, June 16, 1926:13). Its main church was in Allman Town, Kingston, and this
church and some affiliates still exist in Jamaica today. They are not one of the larger Jamaican
organizations however. For an account of the American Church of God in Christ, see Lincoln
and Mamiya (1990:76-91).


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Tracking a Tradition: Kamau Brathwaite and the Bajan



A major preoccupation of this essay is its outlining of the connecting
between selected important writers from Barbados. This article recognizes that
there are no major scholarly debates which discuss Barbadian aesthetics in light of
past and very recent popular culture developments. This article provides some
insights into the conceptualization of Barbadian aesthetics, through an analysis of
what might be termed 'folk' and 'popular' subversive works. It discusses some
connections between apparently disparate artists and art forms. The foundation of
this essay is built upon Kamau Brathwaite's hypothesis of an underground literary
and artistic tradition which links selected writers and art forms within Barbados.
Central to his hypothesis is the connection he would seem to make between folk
culture and popular culture. Indeed he rejects more traditional, closed concepts of
the category commonly called, Literature. He is much more intent on conceiving of
a cultural tradition which emphasizes creativity, a connection with 'roots', and a
grounding in 'Nation Language' I will very briefly introduce his hypothesis. I will go
on to discuss some possible links which connect Barbadian artists. While some
critics on Barbadian literature are of the view that writers like Brathwaite and
Lamming are the last of a dying cadre of writers, this essay tests that assumption
by comparing Brathwaite with other younger Barbadian writers.
Recent post-structuralist approaches to the analysis of culture, question
the rationality of conceptualizing well defined National cultures. Stuart Hall's 1999
lecture on "Identity and the Nation State" given to mark The University of the West
Indies' 50th anniversary, posed many striking questions. Can we talk of the Nation
as an exclusive category, especially in light of recent social, political, cultural and
intellectual developments? Much of recent Theory, and its predominantly 'first
world' skepticism, has formulated and perpetuated neat paradigms and theoretical
categories which have sidelined the intrinsic study of small nation states. The now
old category called "Commonwealth" has been replaced by other controlling
politics wrapped in the guise of "Postcoloniality" and "Black Atlantic"
At the end of the 20th Century with the advent of globalization, such notions
as hybridity, liminality, fluidity, non-fixity and 'betweenity' have understandably
diffused perceptibly older concepts of closed/fixed national boundaries. The nation
state (like the author before it) is therefore rendered as dead. But it is precisely
because of globalization that the immediate future sustainability of smaller national
cultures rests on the extent of their identification of who they are as a people. To

literature and culture in small emerging states. Whereas alliances and the forging
of wider communities is a driving principle of globalization, there is also a counter
imperative: that of better defining the Nation. These two driving principles, or
imperatives, are equally compelling. In this article I want to concern myself mostly
with the counter imperative. I want to discuss the question of a Barbadian
aesthetic. This is indeed a vital subject in as much as Barbadian writers and artists
have come in for critique, but often in the context of postcoloniality, or
anticoloniality, or cross-cultural studies. As yet there is relatively little academic
discourse which, as Brathwaite has said in his c.1987 Sir Winston Scott Memorial
Lecture, and in the article "Writing in Light" (Kyk-over -al Dec. 1989. pp. 84-93)
"rescue[s] the work back to Barbados" Much of the critique of Barbadian writers
has not sought to engage the writers in the context of a national project or tradition.
Barbadian culture, and its literature by extension, continue to come under
pressure as a viable entity. I am not making a special case for Barbados here. For,
the reality is that world-wide there are difficulties in conceptualizing national
literatures in small emerging countries. This essay contends that Barbadian
literature must be approached with some awareness of the local context. It
therefore prefers to discuss 'Literature' within broader terms. Yes it is concerned
with written literature. But it is also concerned with the interconnection of the
'scribal' tradition with oral and music oriented/based traditions. It appears to me
that the failure to have established a well defined Barbadian aesthetic (one which
places 'Literature' at its core), comes about because of the prevailing (post-
colonial, post-structural etc.) critical, methodological approaches and imperatives.
These have tended to focus on artists across cultures, more so than on
consolidating and legitimizing what can be called national discourses. Whereas
'macro-states' have long established a sense of their own national literature and
culture, many smaller countries like Barbados have not vigorously contested the
existence of theirs.
Some misleading mis-readings of Barbados have been offered in George
Pinckard's 1908 Notes on the West Indies and Richard Ligon's 1657 "A True and
Exact History of the Island of Barbados" and other historiographic sources. In more
recent times readings of Barbadian artists and aesthetic components have not set
out to make the critical links between native Barbadian artists. They have done
commendable individual critiques. Some notable ones have been, for example
Sandra Pouchet Paquet on Lamming (The Novels of George Lamming) and
Gordon Rohlehr on Brathwaite (Pathfinder: Black Awakening in the Arrivants of
Edward Kamau Brathwaite). But it is imperative as well to validate connections
within the nation. Other links must be identified, I feel, between Brathwaite and the
most recent core of writers, performers and chanters. The foundation on which it is
possible to talk of a unifying Barbadian artistic connection, might very well have
some basis in what Brathwaite has repeatedly referred to as 'an underground
connection' As recently as his 2000 address in honour of his seventieth birthday,
at The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, he explored this issue. I therefore

want to use this notion of 'an underground Barbados' to discuss how it is possible
to begin to conceptualize an artistic tradition, Barbadian aesthetics.
Brathwaite has made observations about how Barbadian culture has
deceived observers over the centuries. In earlier times Barbados has been said to
have no culture, being perceived as an appendage of England. Indeed it was called
'Little England', and Bimshire, another of the British Shires. Brathwaite has
countered this. He has suggested that Black culture in Barbados which is
predominantly African has over the centuries existed 'underground', or submerged.
This has been a necessary condition of survival. The submergence of African
culture in Barbados has not signalled its extinction. Instead such African Barbadian
retentions in the tuk band, folk song and calypso, food, and in the dialect, or nation
language, signify the persistence of African traditions in Barbadian culture. Warren
Alleyne et al, Trevor Marshall, Richard Allsopp et al and Peter Roberts are valuable
In Brathwaite's scheme of racial and cultural contestation, the
'indestructible [black] self survives institutionalized slavery. A major component of
their underground culture is its language. Nation language is the most potent
component of this submerged culture. Given the centrality of language as a cultural
marker in Brathwaite's theorizing, it is imperative to begin to conceptualize
Barbadian culture through an engagement with those artists who employ the nation
language. These are artists who demonstrate a proclivity for creativity, musicality
and performance. I want to return to discuss such writers, but before I do so I feel
it is necessary to come to terms with issues which relate to the conceptualization of
Literature and culture.
On these Terms. Folk/Popular Culture
The logic of introducing and discussing selected terms is that I am wanting
to challenge some usages of these terms. In any case this paper does not operate
within the strictly defined category called Literature. Barbadian aesthetics cannot
be understood if it is hemmed in by more traditional categories and procedures.
Indeed I would suggest at this juncture that Barbadian 'literary' artists straddle a
number of categories. Works by someone like Kamau Brathwaite, for example,
straddle the boundaries between 'folk culture' and 'popular culture' A clear
understanding of Barbadian aesthetics necessitates an understanding of how
selected artists might indeed be considered to breach these and other categories.
Barbadian writers, and other artists less committed to the page, must be compared
in the same breath, in order to come to terms with Barbadian aesthetics. Strict
Literary analysis and discussion does not do justice to the subject matter at hand.
It is important to make some initial observations concerning key terms like
popular culture' and 'folk culture'. I make this effort less to quote a variety of
sources than it is my attempt to give a better understanding of how this article

begins to interpret and re-interpret these terms in the context of a discourse on
Barbadian literature, culture and aesthetics.
John Fiske is correct when he summarizes that:
popular culture is not consumption, it is culture -
the active process of generating and circulating
meanings and pleasures within a social system:
culture, however industrialized, can never be
adequately described in terms of the buying and
selling of commodities.2
But his categorization of popular culture in relation to folk culture must be
called into question, especially within the context of Barbadian aesthetics. Among
other cultural specialists there is a similar tendency to distance the field of popular
culture from folk culture. Fiske says point-blank that popular culture is not folk
culture. This view sees folk culture as the product of a stable traditional social order
in which social differences are not at work, a society therefore characterized by
social consensus rather than social conflict. This view therefore sees folk culture as
a fossilized set of practices, and it seems to adhere to a totally static view of history,
culture and the signifying process. The reality is that the past is never stable, static
or fixed. The past is always continuing to mean as life goes on. As people come
to terms with their present and future selves they also reassess and re-image their
past, their folk culture. It would be fallacious to conceive of the folk culture in
Barbados as being a site of no conflict. The fact that Barbados' folk culture has
been little expounded on, is not an indication that it has been unearthed and finally
put to rest, rather, it is a reflection of the intensely contentious politics which still
pervade Barbadian society and the trepidation with which the nation sits
nervously concealing the tectonics of an inevitable cultural eruption. A
phenomenon like the indigenous percussive band called the tuk band, for example,
is both folk and popular, because it embodies simultaneously the symbolism of the
past, and it harnesses the potential of the present and future.3 But institutions like
these are under-critiqued. In its current manifestation the tuk band is a thing of
curiosity. It performs at festive occasions, but it is also an agency with subversive
potentialities. When unearthed and understood, items designated as 'folk culture'
become some of the most popular creative tools for the transformation of ultra-
conservative 'outpost-colonial' (my term) societies like those in the Caribbean and
"Popular culture" as a term and concept replaces mass culture. Popular
culture is a less value laden term. But, it is not without its own site of contention and
embattlement. Its meanings have varied over time and from academic to
academic. Sometimes it has been used as a replacement for "low culture", and
has been placed in opposition to "high culture": where high culture is constitute d by:
Art, Literature, the classics, the canon, traditional formal study and a formal

curriculum. There is a school of thought which still conceives popular culture to be
an exclusive type of product. One which is born of an advanced society, which is
produced and disseminated via the media and technology, and subject to copyright
and patent laws. This view continuously links popular culture to industrialized
Even if we go along with the: popular culture equals industrialization
paradigm, it must still be recognized that popular culture as a concept in these
social contexts is still excessively contradictory. On the one hand it is industrialized
and commercially bound. It subsists of 'commodities produced and distributed by a
profit-motivated industry' according to Fiske. But on the other hand, culture is also
in actuality, 'the people' and their outpourings. Their diverse materials must be
seen to form part of the popular. Popular culture is therefore less exclusive than it
is an inclusive category. It cannot be tied indefinitely to the Industry. For, the
people's concerns are not always the concerns of the industry. When Brathwaite
speaks repeatedly of the underground tradition, indeed he is asking that we
conceive of a link between folk and popular phenomena. He has therefore urged a
new kind of criticism which discusses the interconnectivity of poets like himself and
music-based artists like Gabby. Brathwaite therefore takes issue with any reading
of 'the popular' as exclusive to contexts where the market economy has penetrated
most forms of cultural production and consumption.4 Popular culture does not exist
only because of, or in support of production and consumption. In accordance with
his perception, my article therefore examines a range of Barbadian artists and art
forms who and which might not have been perceived as connected in any way,
because of traditional/ received demarcations. This article deliberately
transgresses a number of boundaries in order to achieve its ends, of better
conceptualizing Barbadian literature and culture.
In the text Culture Media Language Janet Batsleer et al consider that there
have been four major conceptualizations of popular culture:
1. as the material of the working class;
2. as the product of a culture industry;
3. as myth;
4. as an ideological apparatus of the state.5
Following Brathwaite's method, I am predominantly concerned with the
first conceptualization. This one privileges the material of the working class, the
folk, the socially deprived, the subordinated. Because I have chosen this structure
and approach, it might seem that I am only concerned with the protestation of the
lower class, who resent their subordination. But still, popular culture and the
establishment do not always live in constant antagonism. For their oppositionality
can be sporadic: sometimes dormant, and sometimes stirred up into symbolistic
guerilla raids. But the nature of this relationship also has to do with a series of
negotiations between these antagonistic and oppositional co-existent forces.

These bases are constantly shifting, therefore. Because of this shifting it is
especially hard to pin down the many disguises of 'the popular' in particular.
It is a mammoth task to speak to the wide range of genres and art forms
which constitute the creative and popular arts. So in my attempt to provide a
generous spread of real examples, mixed with some analysis and a spattering of
theory, I will limit the scope of my substantive discussion here to selected
Barbadian writing, oral literature, performance verse and music.
In the Field
Barbados is a complex collective. For centuries it has been categorized as
conservative, having its own statue of Lord Nelson erected before that of the
British, and in Barbados' own Trafalgar Square. I want to propose that there are at
least two Barbadoses: the mythic Barbados; and the undiscovered/under-
discoursed Barbados. The second one I want to explore through an examination
of its folk and popular culture. The mythic Barbados has existed and been
perpetuated by planter, selected historiographic texts, travelogues, diaries, letters,
pastoral poems and other fictions. In the age of institutionalized tourism, it has
been continued by travel brochures, and in the Barbados Tourism Authority's
Hollywood-type promotion as: "out in the turquoise sea...somewhere beyond your
imagination" When I say mythic Barbados I am referring to the strategies and
constructions which have stereotyped Barbados as an homogeneous entity,
Protestant, prim and proper, transparent, not given to indigenous expression.
The relatively sparse academic writings on the contemporary creative arts
of Barbados have tended to promote the perception of a tame disjointed artistic
community as representing Barbadian arts. But Barbadian culture is diverse,
complex, yet systemically interconnected. Many observations have been unable to
perceive the viability and vibrancy of local arts because, what Althusser calls, 'the
ideological state apparatus' has consistently throughout history discouraged the
interrogation and legitimization of African Barbadian culture. Such a self
examination and conceptualization can be done, I suggest, by engaging with, and
analyzing selected folk and popular creative arts.
Engaging popular subversive strands
After having decried the mis-reading and non-reading of Barbadian
culture, I want to show how there is an active subversive and connected link
between selected popular Barbadian artists. In academic literature beyond the
region, Barbados' indigenous writers have gotten some attention. I could mention
Kamau Brathwaite, George Lamming, Austin Clarke, and there are very few others.
In the 1980's important work Out of the Kumbla which focuses on the contribution
of Caribbean women in the arts Daphne Joseph Hackett is given a few
sentences.6 In Judy Stones' text Theatre, Barbadian playwrights and troupes are
almost negligible.7 Other writers like A.N. Forde, Frank Collymore, Bruce St.John,
Timothy Callender, Anthony Kellman, John Wickham, Winston Farrell, and Mike

Richards (Adisa Andwele), Johnathan Small have gotten honourable mention,
usually in passing, or have had a few works appear in Anthologies like Crossing
Water, Caribbean Poetry Now, Caribbean New Wave, Caribbean Stories,
Cambridge Book of Caribbean Short Stories. In recent and near recent studies of
Caribbean music by the likes of Peter Manuel, Harry Hoetink, and Roger Wallis,
Barbados and its artist are mentioned only for the presence of a pressing plant and
a local distribution outlet for major record companies outside of the region. The
international All-Music Guide places one of Barbados' greatest singing/composing
legends, Gabby, as a Trinidadian singer, and mis-represents its most clever writer
of traditional calypso Red Plastic Bag as Red Plastic Bay.8 Writing in the early
1990s on the nature of Barbadian theatre, the reputable Caribbean literary critic Al
Creighton refers to the "tame" theatre which is practised in Barbados Some
people might agree with this reading of dramatic productions like "Man Talk"
"Laugh It Off" "Bajan Bus Stop" "Talk Tent", "Off Snakes and Grasshoppers" "King
Ja Ja" and "A Hero's Welcome" But Creighton's conclusion is based on a
comparison with other Caribbean and non-Caribbean theatres, and shows no
concern really with examining the particular context which is Barbados.
This is a problem with some critiques on 'micro-states' Some of these
critiques are done as external discourses, when maybe a closer more penetrative
analysis of local forms could reveal the particularities of a National aesthetic. A
revolution of creative arts on the ground cannot always be visible to the onlooker
who peers down from on high. In order to detect the revolutionary in a particular
society, one must first have a sense of what the norm/standard/ususal is within that
same society. Barbadian theatre, and much of the creative arts are indeed potently
subversive: even as they are also (and at the same time), negotiated and tame.
The comic masking of political statement in such local annual productions as "Laff
It Off", "Bajan Bus Stop", "Pampalam" and "Talk Tent", begs to be examined as
camouflaged subversion. If one examines the ways in which laughter violates a
number of discursive proprieties of Barbadian society then it becomes more
evident that the tendency towards comic/satiric theatre marks a distinctive act of
subversion by producers, directors and actors. Barbadian theatre is more prone to
operate through subversive subtlety, rather than through overt confrontation. Many
of the above productions therefore rely on satire, irony, caricatures and humour for
their effective working. The Barbadian poet, actor, director Winston "I" Farrell, has
worked many satiric skits into his "Bajan Bus Stop" comic routines. "Bajan Bus
Stop" is an annual production which casts a range of village characters. Farrell's
1998 production, for example, provided many commentaries on the hot issue of
wealthy white foreigners buying up large chunks of local land. So that the packed-
out audiences which attended the extended season of performances, were drawn
there by the entertainment, but also by the knowledge that "Bus Stop" affords
actors and audience the licence to articulate societal disgust at political leaders and
social issues. Because the cast in this particular production are all eccentric in

some regard, their eccentricity allows them to articulate otherwise sensitive issues
without fear of censure or reprisals. Such is the nature of Barbadian theatre.
Some commentaries on Barbadian writing continue to lament the absence
of continuity within the tradition of Lamming and Brathwaite. The view is therefore
held that there are no Lammings and Brathwaites on the horizon. To a large degree
this is true. But also, it is important to interrogate the viewpoints from which such
statements are emanating. It should be said that the social, political, cultural and
literary climate which gave birth to those writers was a specific moment in
Barbadian and Caribbean history. Those writers were born of a movement which
was Caribbean-wide, and facilitated by literary migrations to metropolises, and by
the interests of large publishing houses in certain types of exotic writings. There
were also fledgling literary magazines like Bim. Much of the curiosity of that era is
now gone. I am not discrediting the sheer skill of writers of that generation, but it
must be admitted that they were born of a certain geo-political, economic and
cultural process. To lament the total absence of like practitioners is therefore to
misunderstand the dynamics of Caribbean society. I would contend that there are
no replicas, that is, cloned verisimilitudes of those writers, because of the kinds of
differences between then and now. It has little really to do with the absence today
of creativity, skill and craft of writing by Barbadians artists. In fact, throughout the
1990s and to the present there is a noticeable influence of Brathwaite on many new
writers who came to national attention in the mid-to-late 1990s. Some of these
writers were part of literary groupings, like the important Barbados Writers
Collective, and their landmark 1997 Voices: An Anthology of Barbadian Writing.
Now I want to make a case for the creative/popular dimension of Barbados'
culture, not always seen by the naked eye, or by traditional literary critics, not
always easy to detect, not necessarily the focus of tourist brochures. And I want to
suggest how a number of disparate entities of creative arts are connected within a
corpus of works which have struggled for legitimacy, but for many reasons have
existed unnoticed by critics, by foreigners, by Barbadians themselves. The logic of
making this connection is that it begins to demonstrate the possibility of mapping a
Barbadian aesthetics, one which links traditional earlier popular folk forms with
more recent hardcore styles.
Between the early 20th Century and the present there are a number of
subversive creative arts phenomena which have surfaced in Barbados; and each
of these is related in some way to a later more subversive artistic manifestation. In
the recent post independence history of Barbados there has been an ongoing
eruption of subversive, creative forms of expression. These have erupted,
confronted established traditions, and have re-negotiated their position in the face
of a repressive establishment, and ideology. (The dominant social groupings
considered good arts to be predominantly non-indigenous works). These
subversive practices are continuing to re-signify or resurface in varying forms and
media. In order to be able to theorize on the existence of a popular counter-

discursive expression in Barbados, it is necessary to locate a few of these
expressions to see how they are related, and how they confront, violate discursive
proprieties of Barbadian society.
A people's language, speech patterns, varieties, intonations, lexicon are
perhaps their most important and self defining attributes. It is no surprise therefore
that current academic debates in the realm of literature, culture, philosophy and
sociology have positioned language at the centre of analysis. When one considers
the creative uses to which Barbadian nation language has been subjected and
projected, the names of selected creative artists readily come to mind. Edward
Cordle, writing at the turn of the twentieth century with his formulaic and structured
Barbadian dialogues between Lizzy and Joe is one example. In his late nineteenth
century verse built on rhyming couplets, the creole was not projected as a medium
of "serious" expression. So that his use of Barbadian dialect created the back drop
for the portrayal of humorous encounters between the protagonists, two
stereotypical characters. They are stock characters. They are middle aged working
class Barbadians. Readers are drawn to the characters on account of their fixed
representativeness. The two protagonists are formulaic devices. Their language is
stolid, exaggerated, at times over done for comic effect. On account of this
therefore, the characters usurp the place of importance from the wider social
issues which impacted a repressive social setup in Barbados. Wider socio-political
issues are therefore subordinated to the imperative of creating exaggerated
linguistic utterances. A 1903 published work appeared in Barbados as Overheard,
published by C.F. Cole, containing many of Cordle's pieces. In the poem "Hard
Times With Lizzie-Foe is Very II" the attempt to capture the Barbadian hyper
corrective "s" at verb endings, results in an almost laughable caricature of the
characters and belittles their supposed plight:
Dese common class Barbadians en got nuh gratitude,
Dey haunts yuh place, dey wears yuh clothes and eats up all
yuh food
But wait till trouble holes yuh, yuh nebah sees a sole,
An dem dat wuz de hottest is shore fuh tuhn more cole.
This is therefore one of the earliest attempts at sustaining the non-
standard variety in a written poetic work. This work also revealed an attempt to
create dramatic poetry. This is an important aspect. The speech variety of the
ordinary Barbadian was therefore a central device in creating its dramatic interplay
and tension. Cordle's writing must therefore be considered important in as much as
it represented one of the earliest popular creative pieces which sought to give
native voice to written poetry. It is only though, much later in the 20th Century, that
experimentation with the Barbadian speech variety would reveal a much more
varied expression of the nation language.

Bruce St.John was one such later writer. His collection of poetry
Bumbatuk10 begs to be interpreted for its nation language, tonal inflections and its
use of the rhythms of tuk, the native Barbadian rhythmic and intonational style
created by the percussive band. St.John's essay which precedes a volume of this
poetry (found at the main library at U.W.I. Cave Hill), begins to formulate a context
for the perception of a tuk or indigenous aesthetic. His nation language poetry is
much more relaxed, confident than Cordle's. Whereas Cordle's used the non-
standard variety largely to convey humour, St.John was using the nation language
for a variety of purposes. In "Letter to England" he uses it for dramatic effect:
Girl chile darling yuh ole muddah hey
Praisin de Lord fuh 'e blessings an 'e mercies...
Uh get de five pounds an' de Christmas card
God bless yuh. (Bumbatuk p. 60)
In "Academic-Epidemic" he uses it for satire of intellectualism. He creates
the Barbadian sound-scape in a way that other writers like Frank Collymore and
A.N. Forde have only hinted at in poems like "Hymn to the Sea" and "Canes"
Timothy Callender fits into this category as well. His prose, the ease with
which his Bajan intonations construct bridges of sound, serves as vivid sound
blocks for the strongly stated story lines which infect their writings. From the
Timothy Callender Collected Christmas Stories the story Christmas Plans follows
the reintegration of Saga Boy into the community after he is released from prison.
It therefore ends with his return to communal ritual and a stated indifference to
institutional control:
"Yes man. I agree with that too," Saga say. And
they get up to go leaving Silus and Mildred there.
And 'pon the step they look at one another and
laugh and nod they head.

"And Saga say, Well what we waiting for? Let we
go and fire a grog nuh!" 11
Like Cordle and St.John, Callender also constructed his works around a
number or recurring characters and iconographies. Callender's appeal to a
Barbadian sensibility rested on his employment of 'traditional' Barbadian villages
like St Jude's and St Elizabeth and local pass times. It is these which contributed
to the popular tone of his works. Whereas Cordle's use of the dialect called
attention to the act of painfully constructing the local language, Callender's nation
language fuels the plot and punctuates its dramatic turns. His major themes, like St
John's, had to do with social change, cultural transformations, anticipatory
socialization, and personal/communal conflict. Unlike St.John, Callender preferred

prose to poetry, but they both shared a keen awareness of how Barbadian society
struggles to define its difference, in a rapidly changing post-independence context.
Anthony Kellman is presently also experimenting with the use of St.
John's pioneering tuk phrasing, through a complex structure based on advanced
methods of poetic scanning. His recorded cassettes of the 1990s "Surf Poems",
and "Surf Poems 2" promise to give fuller expression to his page based
experiments. By producing audio recordings of his poetry he joins Brathwaite,
whose Argo recordings gave greater meaning to his philosophical ratingsg' about
Orality. Leading local poets have found audio recordings to be important support
products for their artistic and ideological projects. Throughout the 1990s Farrell has
produced "African Lion on the Loose" "Earth Spirit" and Adisa has done
"Conscious" and "Doing it Saf" The 'calypso poets' continue to release large
amounts of song-poem each year mainly to coincide with the annual national Crop
Over festival. It is left to other theorists, as Curwen Best promises to do in a
forthcoming work Roots to Popular Culture (Macmillan 2001), to construct an even
larger framework for the study and analysis of Barbadian arts by employing
indigenous leitmotifs.
Jeanette Layne-Clark's ambivalent attitude to nation language, belies her
acute sensitivity to the nuances of the Barbadian intonation, lexicon and syntax.
She does not sit squarely with Brathwaite's deification of the nation language, but
ironically she possesses as keen a perception of it as he. She has produced
creative writing for radio dramas, and serials like the 1970s "Okras in the Stew"
and "Partners in Profit" She has also written dramatic monologues, or sketches
which have formed part of the popular stage dramatic production called
"Pampalam" Some of these dramatic monologues have been recorded for
commercial distribution, as on the cassette "Something in de Stew" FN(JCK 001
1985). The highly expressive drama of Cordle has an echo in Layne Clark. Cordle's
work revolved around stock characters. Clark's has also tended to centre stock
characters, like the two women in her serial "Okras in de Stew" Lottie and Mabel
are neighbours whose foibles and struggles form the basis for the action which
propels Clark's work. Both writers of the pieces rely on humour as chief technical
devices. But Clark's use of the nation language is much more wide ranging in its
application. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that she was writing almost 100
years after Cordle. She is therefore aware of the kinds of debates which have
surrounded dialects and nation language in the middle and later years of the 20th
Century. She is much more informed than he might have been. The agendas have
been better defined by the 1970 wne i she began to write seriously. The role of
language in defining identity had become a major site of debate throughout the
post-independence period of the 1960s.
Underlying her work is a thematic concern with class tensions, anticipatory
socialization, social justice and nation building. These are explored in poems like
"Roots to Riches", "I Want Muh Dam Chile Money" and "At De Bus Stop", all found

on her cassette "Something in de Stew" Her dramatic poem "Shades of Spades"
examines the complex issues bound up in the question of identity in a highly colour
conscious Barbadian society:
You ever stop to study how many shades Buhbadians got?
Ranging from black to backra starting with like de pot
Um is nuff shades fuh truth faith mussy whole fifteen in all
tek it from me I count them so I know this thing tall.
This dramatic poem goes on to outline the perceived correlation between
skin colour and social class. In the performance poem the humorous exterior of the
verse is undercut by a biting indictment of social prejudices which continue to inflict
the Barbadian psyche.
Barbados' leading composer of calypso is Gabby. He first won the calypso
monarch competition in the mid-1960s and continues to perform today. This
longstanding writer/calypsonian has also centred this issue of identity, colour and
race in such popular compositions as "Black Man Wake Up", "Mulatto", "Culture"
and "Miss Barbados" In the 2000 production/recording of "Black man Wake Up"
Gabby sings:
De white man in this country have no shame
Inviting de black man down to Sandy Lane
To play tennis and golf with he
You should see Whitey at de tee
Pretending to be who he cannot be....
Both Gabby and Layne Clark employ the nation language with ease and
feeling. They both have a penchant for biting satire and rancorous, venomous
statement. But perhaps Clark does not become as submersed in her message as
Gabby does. Gabby has always foregrounded issues which have to do with
colonization, and African Barbadian culture. He is an outspoken artist. Layne Clark
is contented to present the issues and hint at the need for action, as in her
dramatic serial "Okras in de Stew", and the particular episode that deals with class
exploitation, titled: "Consumerism" But Gabby overtly makes it clear what action is
necessary, and indeed presents himself as willing to lead the charge in redressing
a number of social ills, like drug trafficking, in the work; "Rambo, Gabbo is Rambo"
(c.1988). In this song he warns, 'I gon pull and pull and pull until they don't have
testicles at all....' He has indeed taken the politics espoused by Brathwaite's verse
to a further extreme. His relationship with the Guyanese dread locked international
star Eddy Grant has seen his lyrics accompanied by an angry, aggressive
technology-driven style which came to the fore in Barbados in the early 1990s.
Brathwaite's own preoccupation with the drum in his poetry, is mirrored by the
strongly stated drums which also drive Gabby's music. Gabby is aware of the
significance of the drum, end indeed a number of his 1990s songs allude lyrically
to its significance: "Jouvert Morning", "Sweeter Than You" and "In de Savannah".

I want to propose that within an overall analysis of Barbadian creative
writings there are few artists who have demonstrated a greater skill and
astuteness, engaging issues of Barbadian society, and projecting Barbadian
aesthetics through language, than has been done by a number of younger, un-
critiqued performance-based artists operating between the mid-1980s and
throughout the 1990s. The artists referred to so far were all born before or in the
1950s. Their younger heirs were born after that period. They might not fit squarely
within what Brathwaite calls, the 'literary literary tradition' These newer artists have
been practising within the related genres of Bajan dub, rhythm poetry, calypso and
post-calypso. They might still fall under the broad category of Orature. I see these
as integral to the formulation of Barbadian aesthetics. But even before I examine
the contribution of this younger generation to a Barbadian aesthetics, it is important
to consider the contribution of Brathwaite to this movement, and then go on to show
how other younger performers might be linked to his work. I pay particular attention
to Brathwaite because he more than any other Barbadian nation language artist
constructed an artistic and philosophical paradigm based on a concept of National
expression and power. Brathwaite is therefore the pivotal figure around whom
many of the above and subsequent artists revolve.
By the late 1990s the Barbadian establishment began to lay partial claim to
Kamau Brathwaite as a vital cultural creative icon. It became noticeable that
commentators and many traditionalists, in an attempt to dismiss younger
artists/performers invoked Brathwaite's poetry as a benchmark for all other writers
to emulate. But many of these commentators did not seem to understand the
dynamics of Brathwaite's works. They were not aware of a vital connection
between Brathwaite and many of the younger artists whose hardcore styles they
dreaded. It is not accurate in the first place to position Brathwaite squarely within a
'literary literary' tradition. His work has been much more rooted in the politics of a
disruptive popular folk culture tradition than many are aware. And herein lies one
connection between his work and younger dub and dancehall artists. Brathwaite
fits squarely within a wider popular culture discourse precisely because his position
has been one of oppositionality to what was 'proper' at the time (1960s-70s) when
works like The Arrivants, Mother Poem, Sun Poem were produced. His work was/is
oral based to a large degree. It speaks in the language registers of many so-called
'uneducated' peoples. It privileges their lifestyles and experiences. It has always
sought to elevate the nation language. For a very long time the literati and the
critical establishment abroad and at home were not prepared to accept his method.
They were not equipped to handle rr any of his experiments. So disruptive has
been his work that it caused a rupture within the then stable literary philosophical
establishment in the Caribbean. It created what is still the most passionate
confrontation in the history of Anglophone Caribbean literature, the Brathwaite
vs.Walcott aesthetic divide.

Brathwaite and the hardcore posse
Let me go on to show how there is an underground connection between
Brathwaite and the more youthful dub/dancehall and rhythm based poets. When it
is understood how Brathwaite's work influenced and preceded many of the
performance poets of Jamaica and the Caribbean, then my arguments for a
Barbadian aesthetic which links Kamau Brathwaite to "I" Farrell, to Adisa, to Lil Rick
becomes more plausible. What we call 'dub poetry' (not to be confused with 'dub
chanting'), that is, works by practitioners like Mikey Smith, clearly has its roots in
the music of reggae and the developments of reggae in the 1960s and 1970s. But
few analyses have considered Brathwaite as forerunner to 1970s and 1980s dub
poetry bards like Smith and Oku Onuora. Indeed the term 'dub poetry' has its
contested origin in the late 1970s, this is a long time after Brathwaite's influence
has been instituted.
When one begins to acknowledge that by the late 1960s performance
pieces like Brathwaite's "Negus" "Wings of A Dove", "The Dust" "Rites" were
already created on vinyl by Decca Argo, then I think we begin to contemplate not
only the influence of the Jamaican oral and music tradition on Brathwaite, but more
significantly here the immense influence which he would also have on the radical
poets of the dub poetry tradition: Smith, Onuora, Zephaniah, Mutabaruka and
others. Brathwaite appeared on stage and on record much earlier than these. So
when in the late 1970s and early 1980s these major dub poets began to influence
the performance tradition in Barbados, it was after they themselves had been
influenced by a Barbadian. And this is how national art forms and cultures interact
and develop.
My critical point here really though goes back to the site of interplay and
interactivity between Brathwaite and writers like "I" Farrell, Adisa, and the natural
progression into the dub genre through Fatman, Jesse James, Kidsite, Lil Rick,
Peter Ram and others who came to the fore in the 1990s. Farrell and Adisa have
acknowledged a direct influence by Brathwaite, others have not. Some others are
not aware of the tradition, but there is a hidden connection.
Farrell's "Trioute" from the 1996 collection of the same name, which pays
homage to the Barl[ dian tuk band, resonates with the kind of quiet celebratory
ritual of Brathwaite's "Ogun" or even his "The Making of the Drum" But there is an
even more remarkable 'sampling' of Brathwaite's method (for example his
"Prelude" in section one of The Arrivants) in stanza three of Farrell's "Tribute":
With a skip
with a dip
down low/
in a wangalo
with a hip

with a low
low tongue
with a low
down whisper... ( p. 6)
Adisa's poem "Come Back Now" (c. 1990) deals in a more direct way with
the legacy of Africa, but while doing so it also in a number of ways reveals the debt
owed to Brathwaite:
...I in Kamau
fuh it is I
that hide muhself
from muhself
an, now
uh come back now
Like Brathwaite's, Gabby's and Farrell's, Adisa's poetry also reveals a
fascination with the drum as a primary symbol of liberation. In the poem "Apartheid
War" (c.1989) the persona chants:
uh could hear
de drum-beat
beating beating beating
knocking back apartheid war (p. 5)
Adisa's ongoing preoccupation with African history, heard on his most
recent cassette "Doing it Saf" (1999) and the impact of knowing that history on the
present, mirrors Brathwaite's own preoccupation with historical dialectics in his
many collections like The Arrivants and Mother Poem and X/Self.
Although Brathwaite's collections devoted to sustained analysis of
Barbados (Mother Poem, Sun Poem, Barabajan Poem) contain much of the
material on which this kind of critical comparison depends, it must also be
remembered that Brathwaite's earlier poems also draw on Barbadian nation
language: "The Dust" "Rites" "The Emigrants", "Calypso"
I want to go further by proposing that the younger generation of Barbadian
artists are in some cases, now, even more attuned to the nuances of the Barbadian
nation language and culture than Brathwaite's poetry is. And I speak here not only
of words on the page, but of the texts in total. That is, the works in performance and
in their performance domains. The Barbadian nation language in its many
formations, intonations has been projected with unprecedented unabashed
forthrightness and potency in such 1980s-1990s works as Farrell's "Busman",
"Minibus Hustle" "Black Lion On The Loose"; Adisa's "Concrete Jungle", "Ah Come
Back Now", "Conscious Again"; Kidsite's "Can't Find Hall"; Ram's "Quicksand",
Rick's "The Youths" Each of these works has in one way or another proved
disruptive to notions of good taste. Each has been subversive. But each has like

Brathwaite's work also undergone a process of contestation and subsumation and
has returned to be embraced by agencies of society's mainstream. Whether it be
at annual performances during the National Independence Festival of the Creative
Arts (NIFCA), Frank Collymore Hall Galas, Crop Over Festival events, or as show
pieces for visiting emissaries. As during Bill Clinton's c. 1997 visit to Barbados. This
is the process whereby popular culture forms when disseminated, subvert,
negotiate and return to be tentatively accepted as 'creative arts' This dynamic
might be traced chronologically through such Adisa poems as "Apartheid War"
"Conscious Again", and "Low Blow" I say tentatively, because there is always a
certain care which is taken in re-presenting popular disruptive culture for limited
consumption by the nation's establishment. There is never really a total
acceptance in Barbados of the artists mentioned above, and therefore never total
This kind of intertextual play between Brathwaite and other Barbadian
writers is not a tenuous connection, this is indeed a major tradition which must be
identified when mapping out Barbadian aesthetics. Their connectivity is
established by a number of common thematic interests and recurring stylistic traits.
These writers are all in some way concerned with discourses of history,
nationalism, contested regionalism, imperialism and identity. Their chosen tongue
negotiates the intersections between standard English and varieties of nation


1. Warren Alleyne et al. The Barbados Carolina Connection (London: Macmillan, 1988).
Richard Allsopp et al "Barbadian Creole" 38-45. in Studies in Caribbean Language ed. Lawrence
Carrington, UWI School of Education, 1989. Peter Roberts West Indians and their Language
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).
2. John Fiske Understanding Popular Culture ( London: Routledge, 1992) p.23.
3. See Curwen Best's Barbadian Popular Music and the Politics of Caribbean Culture (Vermont:
Schenkman Books, 1999) Fiske Understanding Popular Culture p. 169.
4. Tony Bennett et al. Popular Culture: Past and Present (London: Routledge, 1993) p. 5.
5. Stuart Hall et al. Culture Media Language ( London: Routledge, 1992) 257
6. Carole Boyce Davies Out of the Kumbla (Trenton: Africa World Press, 1990) p.14.
7 Judy Stone Theatre ( London Macmillan, 1994).
8. Michael Erlewine et al. Eds. All Music Guide (San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books, 1994).
9. From an original essay by Al Creighton, presented in the early 1990s. Published in The Pressures
of the Text ed. Stewart Brown (Birmingham: CWAS, 1995).
10. Bruce St John Bumbatuk (St Michael: Bridgetown: Cedar Press, 2992).
11. Timothy Callender The Timothy Calllender Christmas Collection (St Michael: Caribbean OpC
Consultants, 1994) p. 50.

The Greatness Thrust Upon Eric Williams



To demonstrate for independence is good, but to
think independently is much better (C. L. R.
James, "A Convention Appraisal")1
Over the years I have been investigating the impact of literary and histori-
cal works on readers, other than the critics, I have made only one notable discov-
ery: that the same methodology does not work twice. The methods applied vary
according to genre and author, to country, to period, to social milieu, perhaps even
according to the mood of the investigator.
Eric Williams (1911-1981) achieved a unique career as a statesman-
scholar, or scholar-statesman, never ceasing to be a scholar, continuing to do
research, even as founding father and prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago. Yet
a survey of textbooks of world history, or of contemporary history, including the
most recent editions, reveals nothing, except that he is largely invisible. Of course,
part of the explanation may be that, on a small-scale globe, Trinidad itself remains
practically invisible. "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, some have
greatness thrust upon them", Williams quotes Shakespeare. But, he adds, "I had
greatness thrust upon me, Trinidad style.2
My essay is meant to provide some background information regarding the
impact of the scholarly work of Dr. Williams, during and after his lifetime. Much of
this information has become available only recently, when the papers of Eric
Williams were finally deposited at The University of the West Indies in St.
Augustine, and opened up.
Although this essay is not intended to support or refute Williams' theses, it
may be worth reminding ourselves that he came up with quite a few noteworthy
ones; these are not necessarily the ones he lists in the concluding chapter of his
magnum opus "a classic in modern world historiography"3 Capitalism and
Slavery, and not necessarily theses on which he has copyright. Thus, as we
know, Williams argues that the profits from the Transatlantic slave trade and from
the plantation economy of the British West Indies played a major role in bringing
about the industrial revolution in the last third of the eighteenth century. "I tell

Negroes, and the world that wishes to listen, that it was Negro slavery which helped
build capitalism in Britain, France, and the U.S.A" 4
Williams also shows that the "Saints" the abolitionists in England while
probably sincere, made use of the economic argument to bolster their cause in
dealing with politicians in parliament.5 "Williams can claim full honors of a
pioneer inplacing capitalism on the anti-slavery agenda", wrote one of his principal
Williams also argues that slavery was not the consequence of White
racism, but rather the other way around: racism was the consequence of slavery,
of chattel slavery in the Western Hemisphere. Furthermore, Williams argues that
the slave trade, and slavery itself, came to an end partly because of the decline in
profits from the sugar plantations after 1800; sugar from the sugarcane ceased to
be queen or king, ceased to be the most profitable commodity on the world market.
A corollary of the above is that even the economic justification for the institution of
slavery lost much of its validity. The Caribbean in general, and the West Indies in
particular, were becoming a liability for the colonial powers, entailing mismanage-
ment and neglect. Another thesis professed by Williams, to which he could not lay
exclusive claim, was the notion that industrialization is a sine qua non of develop-
ment, the only way to escape underdevelopment. In other words, Williams per-
ceived the structural relationship between core and periphery, between
development and underdevelopment, before others.7
To be sure, over the past fifty years economic historians, British and
American, have demonstrated, or attempted to demonstrate, that the statistics do
not support these arguments. It has been noted that the famous and infamous
"triangular trade" represented only one seventh of all British trade, as Williams
himself was aware8 Only 8 to 10% of the income of the Mother country came from
the West Indies in the closing decades of the 18th century, according to Sheridan9
According to others, the average rate of profit from the slave trade between 1760
and 1807 was only 9.5%10
Although the first and best known of these theorems has been attacked
assiduously, the debunkers have been debunked in turn. As usual, however, more
important than the statistics, hardly perceived by the contemporaries at the start of
the industrial revolution, were the contemporary perceptions, which mesh far better
with the theorems of Eric Williams. "The historical actors" notes O'Shaughnessy,
"acted on the belief that colonial wealth was a primary source of national wealth.
For contemporaries, the growth of colonial trade was one of the most visible
features of economic growth in the eighteenth century"11
As the anonymous reviewer in the Times Literary Supplement pointed out,
it was all a question of degree, the degree to which slavery played a part "in the
growth of Birmingham and Manchester."

Scholar-Politician or Politician-Scholar?
Eric Williams did not just interpret the world, he tried to change it; yet, he
was not a revolutionary, indeed, to many he seems to have been a counter-revolu-
tionary. The political career of Williams was related to his writings only indirectly.
The world he tried to change Trinidad and the Caribbean was subject to forces
over which he had almost no control.
While his prestige in Trinidad and Tobago, in the Caribbean in general and,
to some extent, even in the Third World, did not derive from his writings, neither
was there any contradiction between them and his political influence. His careers
as statesman and historian ran parallel. And those parallel lines merged occasion-
Although Capitalism and Slavery, as well as The Neqro in the Caribbean
were published long before Williams founded any political party and well before he
could lead his island-nation to independence, much of his best work remained
ahead of him. Among these are his History of Trinidad and Tobago13 and his
history of the Caribbean, entitled From Columbus to Castro14
Of course, much of the research for his later works had already been done.
Some of the data had been collected when he was still at Oxford, and some had
been collected while he was compiling a series of documentary publications under
the auspices of the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras and of Arturo Morales
Carrion. In fact, in his correspondence with Jaime Benitez, the chancellor of the
University, he talks about giving his book on the history of the Caribbean the
subtitle "From Christopher Columbus to Munoz Marin"5 In a "personal and
confidential" letter from 1951 Williams addresses Munoz Marin as the Caribbean's
premier statesman" (elsewhere he refers to Munoz Marin as an independentist at
heart),16' and refers to Puerto Rico itself as the Mecca of those aspiring to free
themselves from colonial domination17
The Dissemination of his Work
Williams helped Andre Deutsch, the University of North Carolina Press,
and other publishing houses to market his work. There is ample evidence to show
that financial interest, at least at the beginning when, as a family man, existential
problems loomed large, was a major consideration in this activity. Not surprisingly,
the University of North Carolina Press had misgivings about the manuscript from
this unknown Black author. It demanded a subsidy of some $700 to publish
Capitalism and Slavery, to be refunded if a minimum of 1,500 copies were sold18
Indeed, the subsidy was repaid and, at $4 per copy sold, the additional royalties
accruing to Williams amounted to at least $5,000.
Williams collected royalties on a regular basis, yet they were never the
only, or even the most important, consideration. Nor was it just a matter of pride of
authorship, the search for fame or an afterlife traits common to most authors. The
anti-colonial struggle, the raising of a Caribbean consciousness, was foremost in

his mind. On August 19, 1945, Williams wrote to Fab Hoyos, an editor and
bookdealer in Barbados:
For me to approach you on two matters, both
confidential. The first concerns the point of wider
dissemination of CAPITALISM AND SLAVERY in
the West Indies The bookstore should be at-
tracted by the 40% discount which this press [Uni-
versity of North Carolina] offers. If the worst
came to the worst I should be prepared to under-
take the advertising myself, in the sense of meet-
ing the expenses incurred its value will be
largely lost in my eyes if it were read widely in the
US and England, but not in the West Indies. It is
making excellent progress here, as 1200 copies
have been disposed of in 7 months19

When Hoyos replied that the people of Barbados have no proper bookstore,
Williams wrote, on December 5,1945:
I was very disappointed that the order was for 25
copies only. These people are so stupid. What I
should like to do, with aid of May [?] and such folk,
is to go around the different people you know
personally and impress upon them the absolute
importance of reading and keeping this book 20

For much of his life, "home" for Eric Williams was the Caribbean; but in his efforts
to market his works, he did not lose sight of the world at large. Capitalism and
Slavery was translated into Russian, Japanese, Chinese, French, Portuguese,
Spanish (including a Cuban edition) and Italian. The History of the People of
Trinidad and Tobago has been translated into Chinese, From Columbus to Castro
into at least Spanish and French21
Sixty courtesy copies of Capitalism and Slavery were distributed from the
initial printing. Among the recipients of these copies we find names like W.E.B.
DuBois (#15 on the list), Herbert Aptheker (#33) Melville Herskovits, Professor
Frank Pitman, R. H. Tawney. While by December 31, 1949. the sales of his book
totalled 2,412 copies, he had sent out 95 free. In the case of The Negro in the
Caribbean, the State Department (and presumably the intelligence agencies) was
among the "best purchasers."23 In the case of the History of the People of Trinidad
and Tobago, by which time Williams had become head of state, the list of recipients
had expanded to include the Shah of Iran, Leopold Senghor, Julius Nyerere,

Kwame Nkrumah, A. M. Obote of Uganda, K.O. Dike and other vice-chancellors of
Nigerian universities, E. W. Blyden III, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Jommo Kenyata, U Thant,
Secretary General of the United Nations, Ralphe Bunche, Ahmed Ben Bella, Haile
Selassie, Charles de Gaulle, not to mention Dean Rusk, Lyndon B. Johnson24, and
other leaders of the "free world." It was a long list; yet Soviet, Chinese and Cuban
leaders were conspicuous by their absence.
Of the correspondence with publishers, Williams' dealings with the Hun-
garian-born British publisher, Andre Deutsch, is the most extensive in time-span,
volume and importance. The relationship went back to at least 1963, and lasted
almost twenty years, to the end of Williams' life. Deutsch published or reprinted
most of the Prime Minister's historical works.
Deutsch was fairly generous, as publishers go. He offered Williams ad-
vances, "10% on the first 5,000 copies, 12 1/2% from 5,000 to 10,000, and 15%
thereafter" on the History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago25 Actually, 30,000
copies of the book were printed.26 Of these, about four thousand remained unsold
in 1968, according to the circumstantial evidence27 Yet the book was no longer on
the market when I looked for it in Port-of-Spain recently. Other histories of the
country had replaced it.
Other works by Williams published by Andre Deutsch included British
Historians of the West Indies and Documents of West India History, both in 15,000
copies. In these instances, many remained unsold28 Deutsch had to negotiate
with American publishers, like Macmillan and Scribner's, to unload some of the
From Columbus to Castro was published by Andre Deutsch and by Harper,
in at least 8,700 copies. "I am very confident," wrote Deutsch, "that the book will go
on selling for years and years to come.30" The book had to be reprinted by the
summer, although we are not given the number of copies31
Deutsch was also aiming at securing the rights to reissue Capitalism and
Slavery. He wrote Williams, asking him to postpone a "writers' conference" sched-
uled for Mona, Jamaica, so that the book, and other Williams works, would be
available to those in attendance. In fact, he seems to suggest that he would
contribute to the expense: "I don't know where you propose to raise the necessary
money for this conference." In the same letter, he proposes a "West Indian Literary
Prize. My company would be very happy to join in on this ,,32 Actually, the
writer's conference did not take place, probably because the prime minister had
other matters to worry about.
Yet being a Prime Minister, involved in daily political battles with increasing
numbers of adversaries, did not stop Williams from practicing his other profession.
"Over the Christmas and New Year weekends I completed the remaining five
chapters of my history of the Caribbean" eventually given the title From Columbus
to Castro. "I simply cannot cover the 476 years from Columbus to Castro in 500

pages," he added33 The History of Trinidad and Tobago, if we are to take Williams
at his word, was written in the space of a single month of feverish activity, between
July 25 and August 2534
Williams also asked himself the academic question, why should a political
leader bother to write history? He lists two advantages: first, to seek distraction
from the day to day pressures"; second he notes rather irrelevantly there are two
periods in the year when a prime minister in Trinidad and Tobago can normally and
legitimately expect to be undisturbed because of the concentration of the popula-
tion on sheer 'living it up.' Those periods are Christmas and Carnival"35 In a letter
concerning the writing of his autobiography, Inward Hunger, Williams claims, "I
have set aside the carnival weekend to work on it... In Trinidad, this counts as a
supreme sacrifice!36
Relations between Williams and Deutsch changed over time; from publish-
er Deutsch became friend. Now the letters were addressed to "Dear Andre" and
"Dear Eric." His correspondence with Andre Deutsch in person, and with the
publishing house in general, indicate that Williams had no compunctions about
using the staff of the house as his research assistants. Nor was this service paid
for, if we overlook the fact that Andre Deutsch and his associates visited Trinidad,
and even Tobago, quite frequently. While I have found no hotel bills among the
Williams paper, Deutsch was not bashful about asking Williams for free airline
tickets to Port of Spain37 Williams in turn badgered his friend for specific informa-
tion to enable him to fill certain gaps: Is there a good readable study you can send
on Marx and Engels on the peasantry ?" inquired Williams. "Is there any specific
volume by Marx and/or Engels on the whole question of slavery as such, if so, I
would be glad to have it"38
The correspondence of the last few years takes the relationship to another
level. Deutsch was not above expressing jealousy when Williams was dealing with
other publishers. A year before the rather unexpected death of the Prime Minister,
Deutsch wrote: "What has happened? Why did you desert us?39
The political climate, too, had changed in the late sixties and seventies,
especially in the United States. "It seems to me that, with the current rage in the
USA for Black Studies, the market there should have improved," wrote Williams40
Williams neglected to consider that, unlike fellow Trinidadian Stokely Carmichael
(Kwame Ture), he did not count as a hero of the Black Power movement. In a
poem entitled "The 'Race Line' is a Product of Capitalism", Amiri Baraka wrote, or
sang (probably after the failed Black Power uprising of 1970):
Say did you, brothers, sisters, did you hear about
intellectual Eric Wms, after fighting against the
rule of the white man, the British colon, had took
up oppression on his own, linked his hot thing to

the same imperialism and Trinidad moaned under
his bullshit...

No wonder Williams noted, at one point, that he needed Black Power advocates in
Trinidad like he needed a "hole in the head"
The Impact of the Cold War on the Dissemination of the Works
All his life as historian and as statesman Williams was highly conscious of
the presence of the United States in the Caribbean. He defined one of his principal
objectives as "the struggle against metropolitan cultural domination41 Of course,
his concern with the American presence became less explicit once in office and
once he had to assume responsibility for the immediate welfare of his people; in
other words, the Cold War caught up with Williams. As CLR James told him "fifty
times", he could no longer say whatever he pleased42 Indeed, the nearly invisible
hand of censorship lurks behind his later writings, even if it was nothing more than
At no point in his writings at least in those I had the opportunity to peruse
- does Williams claim to or admit advocating any form of socialism; yet he has been
labelled a Marxist, or neo-Marxist by some friends (see, for instance, the unpub-
lished BA thesis by Michael F. Toussaint)43, a "materialist" by his young tutor at
Oxford44, a crypto-communist by some enemies, or a conservative and reaction-
ary45 Perhaps his attitudes are revealed by the company he kept; he seeks out
Aime Cesaire and Richard Wright in Paris4, not to mention his erstwhile friendship
with CLR.
The litmus test of Williams' ideological preferences might lie in his attitude
toward Fidel Castro and the Castro regime. In 1963, that is shortly after Castro's
profession of faith, he was "particularly careful to differentiate Trinidad and Tobago
from Cuba"47 But in 1966 he notes: "The emergence of Castro in Cuba has saved
the entire Caribbean from total oblivion "48 And if this is not positive enough, in
1973 he notes, "Castro's government has already laid down the law. Education in
general, and the university in particular, is to be used to build the new society, to
develop the socialist man, without racial prejudices, doing away with money,
correcting the aversions to manual labour and the relegation of women to the
home."49 Yet the evidence remains contradictory. In one of his letters, Deutsch
wrote Williams, "it is not that we disagree with what you say about Cuba and
Castro", but "please rewrite" 50 Obviously, the pressures were there.
Politicians, even statesmen, learn to bend with the pressures. The Cold
War, the pressures of steering a patriotic course without running afoul of Theodore
Roosevelt's "corollary to the Monroe doctrine", seem to have prompted Eric Wil-
liams to adopt too cautious a tone, with regard to the Castro regime in particular.
His sarcasm, his feelings of intellectual superiority antagonized many of his con-
temporary countrymen and countrywomen. There is no question, however if I

may be allowed a bit of prophetic vision that sooner rather than later, full
recognition will come. If a Trinidadian Pantheon is ever erected, Eric Williams will
preside therein once again, alongside C. L. R. James, Kwame Ture, V. S. Naipaul,
and a few others.


1. Port-of-Spain: PNM Publishers, 1960, reprinted in Eric Williams Speaks: Essays on Colonialism and
Independence, ed. Selwyn R. Cudjoe (Calaloux: Willesby, MA 1993), p. 328.
2. Eric Williams, Inward Hunger; the Education of a Prime Minister (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1971), p. 30.
3. Hilary Beckles, "Capitalism and Slavery: the Debate over Eric Williams," Social and Economic Stud-
ies (Mona), Vol. 33, No. 4 (Dec. 1984), p. 171.
4. Trinidad Guardian, August 31, 1950. Quoted by Williams himself in Inward Hunger, p. 110.
5. See History of the People of Trinidad & Tobago, p. 65.
6. Seyour Drescher, in "Conference on Capitalism and Slavery, Fifty Years Later: Eric Williams and
the Post-Colonial Caribbean," p. 18.
7. See Ken I. Boodhoo, ed. Eric Williams, the Man and the leader (Lanham, U. Press of America,
1986), pp. 30-31. Andre Gunder Frank, for one, admitted being influenced by the power of the
structural analysis in Capitalism and Slavery. Beckles, op. cit., p. 185.
8. For instance, Williams notes in From Columbus to Castro: the History of the Caribbean that the to-
tal trade of the British West Indies in the period 1714 to 1773 was considerably less than the
trade with the American colonies: 45.4 million pounds as opposed to 70 millions pounds. (New
York: Vintages, 1984- Ist-ed. 1970), p. 151.
9. Sheridan
10. See Ansley .... According to Engerman the slave trade contributed between 2.4 and 10.8% to na-
tional capital formation between 1688 and 1800.
11. Andrew J. O'Shaughnessy, "Eric Williams as Economic Historian" from the "Conference on Capital-
ism and Slavery, Fifty Years Later: Eric Williams and the Post-Colonial Caribbean"...p. 5.
12. TLS, May 26, 1945. UWI.
13. Brooklyn: A & B Books, 1993. Also Port-of-Spain: PNM Publishing Co., 1962.
14. From Columbus to Castro; the History of the Caribbean (New York: Vintage, 1984 1st ed., Lon-
don; Andre Deutsch, 1970).
15. Williams to Jaime Benitez, June 15,1952. UWI.
16. The University in the Caribbean, p. 3.
17. Williams to Munoz Marin, November 8,1951. UWI.
18. Couch, Director of the UNC Press, to Williams, April 22,1943, UWI. See also, Inward Hunger, p.
19. Williams to Hoyos, August 19,1945. UWI.
20. Williams to Hoyos, December 5, 1945. UWI.
21. Letter of Andre Deutsch to Williams, December 11, 1973; letter of Piers Bunett to Williams, May
13, 1976; and letter of Deutsch to Lionel Soto Prieto, July 2, 1975. UWI.
22. Letter of Williams to University of North Carolina Press, October 14, 1944. UWI.
23. Inward Hunger, p. 68.

24. Letter from Deutsch to Eric Murray, April 9, 1964. JWI.
25. Letters from Deutsch to Williams, July 3 and July 21, 1963.
26. Letters from Deutsch to Williams, October 9 and November 12, 1963. UWI.
27 Letter of Deutsch to Williams, February 9, 1968. UWI.
28. Letter of Deutsch to Williams, December 30, 1964. UWI.
29. Letters of Deutsch to Williams, December 2, 1965 and September 2, 1966. UWI.
30. Letter of February 2, 1971. UWI.
31. Letter of Deutsch to Williams, June 30,1971. UWI.
32. Letter of July 3, 1963. UWI.
33. Letter of Williams to Deutsch, January, no day, 1968. UWI.
34. Foreword to History of Tnrinidad and Tobago, no page number.
35. Eric Williams, Bnritish Historians and the West Indies (New York:Africana, 1966), p. 11.
36. Williams to Deutsch, February 13, 1968. UWI.
37 Letter of Deutsch to Williams, January 1971. UWI.
38. Letter of Williams to Deutsch, October 13, 1978. UWI.
39. Letter of Deutsch to Williams, November 7, 1980. UW.I
40. Letter from Williams to Deutsch, May 1969. UWI.
41. The University in the Caribbean, p. 2.
42. Eric Williams speaks, p. 344. CLR also notes: "I remember the long discussions we had [with Eric
Williams] as to what the thesis should be and how it should be tackled. Those congenital idiots
and backward people who talk about Williams having a chip on his shoulder on the race ques-
tion should study all this, ponder over it and take a vow of silence for the rest of their days..." "A
Convention Appraisal", Ibid., p. 334.
43. "On the Development of the Welfare State in the Era of the Administration of Eric Williams," Spe-
cial collection, Library of UWI.
44. Inward Hunger, p. 47.
45. Pseudo-radicals "dismiss him as an arch-reactionary, neocolonial, Afro-Saxon, pragmatic politi-
cian without ideological baggage," writes Michael Delblond, "What Manner of Man was Eric Wil-
liams" Trinidad Guardian, April 4, 1986, p. 11.
46. Inward Hunger, p. 142.
47 Inward Hunger, p. 301.
48. British Historians and the West Indies, p. 234.
49. The University in the Caribbean in the late 20th Century 1980-1999 (Port-of-Spain: PNM, 1973),
pp. 11, 17.
50. Letter of March 18, 1969.

The Issue of Oppression A Political Stance in the Poetry of
Two Jamaican Women Writers



Both Lorna Goodison, artist and poet, and Elean Thomas, writer and
political activist, focus in their poetry on the overt as well as the more subtle
manifestations of oppression. What they bring to the issue of oppression, and this
is also evident when they deal with the deprivation of certain basic human rights, is
an acute awareness of what it means to be oppressed and marginalized, not only
because of socio-political circumstances, but because of gender and race.
Often these Jamaican women writers move away from the geographical
ambit of their own country, extending their poetic terrain to include international
issues such as the struggle for liberation in South Africa and in Asiatic and Central
American countries. In their choice of poetic subjects as well as in their literary
recourses, we see a rejection of what has become traditional and institutionalized
in the realm of literary discourse. Both women affirm the literary value of the
Jamaican vernacular as they move across the Jamaican language spectrum,
switching with facile agility from Standard English to Jamaican Creole. What
stands out in the poems of both women is the ability to create intense, startling
images which seem to have been distilled through a perception of their society
which is as sensitive as it is critical.
Oppression is seen to take many forms in these poems. For Goodison in
"The Road of the Dread", it is the injustice of poverty and hunger. Writing in
Jamaican Creole, she describes the effects of not having food to eat, water to drink.
When there is nothing, salty sweat must quench thirst and the imagination takes
over to create an image of bread being chewed until the mind accepts that the
stomach is full:
sometime yu drink yu salt sweat fi water
and bread? Yu picture it and chew it
and some time yu surprise fi know how
dat full
man belly. (TS p. 22)

The "Dread" referred to in the title of the poem is a member of the Rastafarians,
an indigenous, religious group rejected and marginalized by many members of the
Jamaican society. By using a "Dread" as the central figure in the poem, Goodison

is able not only to focus on the effects of poverty but to examine as well the dual
nature of his suffering as an indigent citizen and as an ostracized Rastafarian.
Oppression of a different nature is suggested in the barbed wire image
where the road of the Dread is described as "fence two side/with live barb wire" (TS
p. 22) indicating that there is no way out for the Dread. The imposed hardships of
life symbolized by "stone" and "snake" are contrasted with the pleasure and
comfort the Dread derives from Nature the sun, the birds, the stream and also
with the comradeship and bonds which exist among those who travel the same
road and are subjected to the same suffering:
and better still when you meet another traveller
who have flour and you have water and man and man
make bread together (TS p. 23)

Bread suggests food to assuage hunger but there is also a spiritual connotation
where "bread" in the Biblical sense satisfies spiritual needs and symbolizes the
feeling of community among sufferers.
The poem is conversational in its format in that it is written in the vernacular
and dialogue is implied as the persona poses and answers questions, but there is
a tone of despair and frustration which underscores the deep emotions evoked in
the poem.
Elean Thomas' poetry also deals with poverty and hunger. In her poem
"Child Abuse 1"2 the persona is an unemployed woman with children. She is poor
and is unable to find a job. "Miles upon miles of walking/ to find a job/no job to be
found" (p. 51).
The emotion evoked in the poem is extremely intense. One cannot but
react to the description of the hungry mother, body rigid as she tries to control the
spread of hunger which starts in her stomach and threatens to take over every part
of her body:
Whole night last night
Me lay down stiff-out
pon me belly
Me lock me teeth
and me jaw and me lip-them
To prevent the bitter hungry bile
from come up out of the stomach (p. 50)
The woman's reaction to her situation her poverty, unemployment, op-
pression takes two forms. On the one hand she faces the possibility of insanity
(getting off her head) as the system in which she lives provides no outlets, no
opportunities. Her plight is similar to that of the "Dread" in Goodison's poem. She

says "A feel like a going to get off / a me head today/ A must get off / a me head
today. (p. 50) The lines suggesting the threat of insanity are interspersed through-
out the poem with slight variations which capture nuances in the woman's resonses
to her situation. At times she feels that insanity is inevitable. "A must get off / a me
head today"(p. 50); on other occasions she feels that there is no point in struggling
to remain sane in the face of unrelieved poverty and hopelessness:
A might just get off
a me head today
Because me and them can't go on
living so (p. 51)
On the other hand the woman reacts to her situation with an anger, a rage,
which is directed not against the system but against the children she loves she
has an urge to destroy them. Her reactions are played out in her mind and
epitomize her deep conflicts, the emotional contradictions. She cannot fight the
system so she imagines being violent to those to whom she can be, those closest
to her. As mother she cannot feed and adequately care for her children. She is
poor and unemployed, so she visualizes their death as a way out of a destructive
and hopeless life:
A feel like a would-a lick
them down
And stamp-up me foot all over them

A feel like a could-a mash out
him brains
and scatter him all over the floor (pp.50-51)
In this poem there is a strong indictment of the system that has given rise
to such abject poverty and the criticism is captured in the recurrent line "I will never
born another pickney again." This declaration, this emphatic conscious decision
not to have any more children represents her defiance, her ability to take a stand.
In slavery women were forced to bear children so as to provide an adequate supply
of workers for the plantation, but this woman who feels enslaved rebels, refuses to
bring children into a world, into a system where they will be condemned to poverty
and hopelessness. Yet it is the love for her children which ultimately keeps her
sane, which gives her the courage to keep on trying despite seemingly unsur-
mountable walls. It is the child looking up at her, feeling for her, that rekindles the
maternal instinct and moves her to face reality and continue the struggle:
Him just lean him head there
And looking straight-up into
me soul
A can't get off a me head today
No way a can get off

a me head today
I have to find the way out (p. 52)
As with many contemporary Jamaican poets, there is emphasis in
Thomas' poetry on rhythm. In fact she modestly refers to her poems as "word
rhythms" claiming that it would be pretentious to call them poems. (p. 23) Rhythm
is inherent in the Jamaican Creole, the medium for most of Thomas' poetry and
rhythm is created in this poem, by the structuring of the lines, the repetition of lines
and words, and in the juxtaposition or combination of words, usually hyphenated to
create a new word or intensify an image, as in the case of "soft-soft", "quiet-quiet"
"Creep-up" which describe the persona's little children and point up all that is
innocent and delicate about them.
Another aspect of injustice is brought out in Lorna Goodison's "Bend-Down
Plaza"3 where she highlights class contradictions and the problems inherent in a
market economy. The opening line of the poem "The whole place is a market
place" is a criticism of the over-emphasis on what is material, on commercialism
and consumerism. The mode of selling which characterizes the different social
classes is contrasted in the verbs "selling" applied to the upper class who own and
operate stores usually in plazas and "higglering" in which the lower class engages
outside the stores, on the pavements, where potential buyers have to bend down
to see and choose the items that are on sale, usually at ground level. Hence the
ironic title "Bend Down Plaza" The poet shifts the location from the commercial
area to the residential and focuses attention on the lifestyle of the upper-class
merchants who own the stores:
Outside the temples of very
gracious living
guard guards with a dobermann's aid
a dog trained to bite to the bones. (/ Am p.11).
There is an implicit contrast with the life-style of the poor who cannot afford
to be protected by security guard and dog and who themselves represent a threat
to the rich. The dog reacts to socially unaccepted types usually from the Black
lower class, whose smell it is trained to detect:
And the dog throttles low
at the sharp-green smell of a passing
negro (IAm p.11)
And 'negro', alone in the line brings into focus the class-race-colour link in the so-
Goodison further explores the issue of class differences in her poem
"Bridge Views" from the collection Tamarind Season. The poem is presented as a
testimony of the upward social mobility achieved by the persona's family. Their
less fortunate childhood companions who remain on the lowest rungs of the social

ladder follow a downward trend which leads them to alcoholism, robbery and
murder. The children did not perceive poverty in terms of class "Knowing no class
lines or shoes..." (TS p. 46), but the mother, conscious of class "did not forget to tell
us/we did not really belong there... We were always on our way back to where/she
originally petite bourgeoisie came from" (TS pp. 46-47) The alienating effects of
class differences are seen when the family moves upwards:
We moved to concrete suburbia
acquiring the first weapon for
committing class suicide (TS p. 47)
Their house "near the sea with a beach" is a far distance, literally and
figuratively, from the area in which they lived previously, described as:
........the schizoid waters
of the Hunt's Bay Power Station
the heated pool of Kingston's poor
children. (TS p. 47)
Heated pools, usually associated with upper-class living, symbolizes here
the slough from which the poor cannot escape and their state of hopeless depres-
sion. The suggestion of heat is not a comforting warmth but suffocation on many
levels. Maintaining the personal tone of the poem, Goodison provides the names
of playmates who were left behind in the social morass to face the inevitable
destiny of so many poor children: Georgie becomes a thief, Mike an alcoholic and
One Son an escaped convict and murderer. (TS pp. 47-48).
Both Jamaican poets speak to the special kind of oppression to which
women are subjected because of their gender, to the fact that women are denied
certain rights, are treated as second-class citizens and denied equal status with
men because of their sex. Thomas' poem, 'Litany of a Housewife' (pp. 66-67)
presents the house as the symbol of woman's imprisonment, enslavement and
general lack of freedom. The poem begins "I stay in this house/from morn till night"
(p. 66) and these lines are repeated anaphorically at the beginning of four consecu-
tive stanzas. The persona is a woman who is complaining to her husband about
the unjust treatment she receives. His criticism is that she is only fit to do domestic
work, that her level of conversation is infantile and that she only nags or gossips.
In her defence, she explains that her behaviour-is directly related to the nature of
her existence as she is cut off from the reality of life as it is outside the walls of her
house. In fact she is:
of national production targets
foreign exchange deficits
neutron death
mx missiles
Star wars at the door (p. 67)

There is nothing in her life except housework:
I stay in this house
from morn till night
And cook and clean and wash
mountains of shirts
and pants
and nappies
and dresses (p. 66)
As Dr. Trevor Munroe comments in his Introduction to Thomas' Collection,
"How common it is for tens of thousands of women to be made into domestic slaves
by the system and too often by the man as well "(p.xviii) But there is an inherent
contradiction in the poem that the persona claims to be socially and politically
unaware yet she mentions "national production targets" "foreign exchange defi-
cits", manipulating the jargon of those who are in fact aware. For the woman in the
poem the only solution is a radical change in the social order:
Social Revolution
which alone
can free me
from staying in this house
from morn till night (p. 67)
One wonders however, if Social Revolution is indeed the answer.
In another poem "A Matter of Words" Thomas focuses on the concepts of
Equality and Liberation as they are applied to the condition of both women and
men. She makes the point that under the oppressive system, men and women are
equal in the abuses and injustices they suffer:
Equality in poverty
Equality in exploitation
Equality in brutality
Equality in class
and race
discrimination? (p. 29)

However, with regard to the matter of liberation, she emphasizes that women, not
men, suffer from sex discrimination and it is therefore women who need liberation:
Liberation from poverty
Liberation from exploitation
Liberation from brutality
Liberation from class
race and sex
discrimination? (p. 29)

The conclusion is that only women suffer from sex discrimination and it is therefore
women who have the greater need for liberation.
For Goodison, exploitation and abuse of women have become institution-
alized. In her poem "Judges" (TS pp. 54-55) the scene is a Court of Law where the
persona is made to address directly a judge, to point out that women are denied the
right to the pursuit of happiness:
"Unhappiness is not grounds for divorce"
"Marriage does not guarantee happiness" (TS p. 54)
The judge is male, addressed as "Sir" and represents the entrenched,
established dominant male attitudes: This court does not support women's libera-
tion (TS p. 54) In this poem Goodison exposes the lot of domestic helpers who are
exploited as workers and as women. "They are working in your kitchen/cooking
compliments for your slow-witted wife" (TS p. 54). It is the judge himself who now
stands accused as it is he who is responsible for facilitating his sons' violation of the
They are used to biting their lips under the
violation of your sons
for whose first experience you chose a young
clean maid. (TS p. 54)

The fact that the abused,- violated woman bites her lips, underscores the notion of
silence of woman. Indeed it has been pointed out by a number of women writers
and critics that women are identified with silence" Women have not been free to
speak out and even if they do, the system provides no justice for the abuses they
Thomas' poem "Child Abuse II" (pp. 82-83) echoes sentiments similar to
those expressed by Goodison as to the reaction of females when faced with sexual
abuse. In Thomas' poem the victim is a child who is sexually abused by a "kind"
family friend, the typical grandfather figure:
When I was seven years old
Seventy-year-old nice family friend
Mr. Smith brought me sweeties
and my very first real doll (p. 82)
Again we have the image of silence in the face of abuse:
As I bumped up and down
On Mr. Smith's lap
I gritted my teeth
and asked myself
Should I be feeling pain

Whenever nice Mr. Smith
Bumped me down
upon his lap? (p. 82)
The sexual abuse continues as does the little girl's silence:
When I was eight years old
seventy-one-year old nice family friend
Mr. Smith still liked to bump
me on his lap
Would my mother and my father
My uncles and my aunties
Still laugh and roar
if I should show them
the blood running down
my legs?
Empirical studies of sexual abuse against females in the Caribbean, pre-
sented in non-literary discourse, reveal that the average age of the victim [particu-
larly of incest] is between five and eight and that once the relationship becomes
known to other family members it is usually hushed up. One woman interviewed for
research purposes described her childhood experiences with her stepfather:
papa would visit my room at nights
He slept with me for nearly a year before
I became pregnant. Mama beat me when I
told her who was the father and asked me
not to tell anyone5

Studies show that silence is imposed on the victims whether child or adult and
there is always the threat of violence to enforce compliance.
We see in the poetry of these women how the biological attributes which
distinguish women from men menstruation, pregnancy are used to deny women
their rights. Thomas describes a female soldier who performed bravely in the line
of duty yet she is discriminated against in subtle ways:
You just happen to put more emphasis on the
One Mission that I missed
confined to camp with terrible period pains (p. 92)
And the unjust treatment is rationalized:
Our women soldiers perform valiantly
but they have so many, SPECIAL problems. (p.92)

At eight months pregnant, the woman has to face a police raid "Bullets flying / boots
a-crashing-in doors / Gunbutts stomping stomping" (p. 93). She is protecting her
man who is in hiding. Yet when she wants to "become a Member / of the
Movement" (p. 93) the response is "But you can't manage that, Love. /Who going
to take care of the house and see that no/harm come to the children while you gone
to meetings / and marches?" (p. 93)
Oppression and injustice found outside the Caribbean region are dealt with
in the poetry of Goodison and Thomas. They place the struggle for freedom in an
international context, dismantling geographical boundaries. Thomas mentions the
struggle for freedom in Central America and Africa (pp. 97-98), pointing out that in
Ethiopia it is a struggle to control / even the elements" (p. 98) as they wage a
seemingly hopeless war against drought and its corollary starvation.
Goodison, in a poem with an ostensibly innocuous title, "Bedspread" (I Am
pp. 42-43) uses this household item to symbolize the hopes and struggles of the
oppressed and exploited Black South Africans as they suffer under the system of
apartheid. She focuses on the women as a group, a community, and on Winnie
Mandela. The Black South African women who are germane to the struggle for
liberation, who tend the injured and accept the loss of their children for the cause,
are the ones who wove the bedspread in the official colours of the African National
Congress the ANC:
It was woven by women with slender
capable hands
accustomed to binding wounds
hands that closed the eyes of
dead children,
that fought for the right to
speak in their own tongues
in their own land
in their own schools.
They wove the bedspread
and knotted notes of hope in each strand
and selvedged the edges with
ancient blessings
older than any white man's coming (I Am p. 42)
For Winnie Mandela in whose house it was kept, the bedspread symbol-
ised a link with her imprisoned husband; it transported her to a mental plane where
Nelson was with her; it symbolized for her hope and rest from "the tyranny and evil
/ devouring our people" (I Am p.42) In a police raid on Winnie Mandela's house
"They arrested the bedspread to arrest the dreams in our heads." (I Am p. 43)
But the dreams and hopes of the black South African women, symbolized in the
bedspread, did not die. The women continued to weave, they continued to strug-

...and the women, accustomed to closing
the eyes of the dead
are weaving cloths still brighter
to drape us in glory in a Free
Azania (I Am (p. 43)
It is also in an international context that the evidence is visible of the
undermining of one's racial and cultural pride because of the imposition of a foreign
culture. Goodison, in I Am Becoming My Mother, dedicates a number of poems to
the mulatta: "Mulatta Song" (p.9), "The Mulatta as Penelope" (p. 25), "The Mulatta
and the Minotaur" (p. 31). What she presents is not the mulatta as a national
symbol of a racially-mixed society, but the Mulatta as the confused product of the
conjoining of different races and cultures, unable to accept one or other, product of
the violent, exploitative domination of one country by another.
In "New York" from the collection Tamarind Season, Goodison probes the
dilemma of immigrants in North America. There is the Jamaican who has to work
at two jobs to survive. There is the beautiful African whose process of acculturation
is symbolised in the clothes he wears part African, part Western:
Hair Negro naturally
and tribal dress to hips
meeting his western pants
and loafers.
The most beautiful boy whose
hands grow from the sleeves
of his African blouse and
clutch a Baldwin book. (TS p.12)
The scene shifts from New York to England in "England Seen" (TS pp.18-
19) and Goodison foregrounds the notion of "quality of hair" which has been and
continues to be an issue for Caribbean people. Hair which is "kinky" is thought to
be "bad" whereas "straight" hair, typical of whites, is "good" In the poem, the
hairdressers to whom Goodison mockingly refers as "Icylin chief presser hair" and
"Catherine Commonwealth Hairdresser", do a roaring business in England as there
are so many Black women wanting to straighten their hair, symbolizing a rejection
of their African heritage. Mulattas who want to "pass for white" need to disguise
their hair:
There is this one girl the
evidence of miscegenation
face like a dummy in a window vacuum.
"She comes out white, everything
except her hair, it bad! (TS p.18)
Black people have been so oppressed, particularly those of the diaspora,
that they reject their blackness and strive to be like their White oppressors.

Goodison highlights this issue in the poem "My Late Friend" Not only is this
woman straightening her hair, but she bleaches her skin and associates exclu-
sively with White men in her effort to transform herself into a White person.
My friend is on the surface, black.
Africa's eyes and lips
My friend is softest midnight black
and no Rap-Brown-Rhetoric, beautiful.
She fled the tropics
because the sun darkens her
my friend wants to be one with the snow.

She's disciplined her hair till it lies
in exhausted submission
And each night from her sheets of white
she thanks a WASP god for bleaching cream.
She has a White lover
"They treat you better"
each day my friend grows whiter. (TS p. 32)
A very important aspect of the poetry written by these Jamaican women,
Thomas and Goodison, is that while they criticize and demand freedom from all
types of oppression, yet they warn their sisters not be exploitative in relationships
with men and with other women. In the final poem of the collection Word Rhythms
from the Life of a Woman, Thomas writes:
of those women
dish out your love and affection
to the exact measure
that he can shell out
Big house
Show room furniture
Expensive things
and property... (p. 108)
For change to occur there must be a change in the attitude of women. They
must not accept the status quo:
Aint it a shame
That so many
Still think it

For the Woman to go FIRST
Yet remain LAST
And aint it a shame
That so many
Still agree
IT'S NATURAL. (p. 96)
Thomas provides a blueprint for the action necessary if women are to
break the chains of oppression and gain their freedom:
I am more concerned
That you should really learn
We cannot come into the fullness
of our heritage
Unless in action
With our own hands
We together tear down the walls
of our own self-doubt
Even should we be crushed to pieces
in the effort
Or suffocate in the dust
from the torn-down walls
We will never know
if we can fly
Unless we break
these subtler chains
And soar
or fall (p. 91)
In their poetry, Thomas and Goodison speak out against oppression,
whatever form it takes. Thomas places a great deal of emphasis on the issue of
gender and presents woman as agent, strong and capable even in an oppressed
situation. Goodison is more inclined to lament and denounce, not stressing
woman's capacity to tackle the system. These two poets rank with other contem-
porary Jamaican women writers such as Louise Bennett and Sistren Collective,
who decry injustice and exploitation and who uphold the dignity of their racial and
cultural heritage. By making these social and political issues part of their literary
discourse, these women have placed themselves in the vanguard of the movement
to achieve change because writing in this way is indeed a political activity.



1. Loma Goodison "The Road of the Dread", Tamarind Season, Kingston: Institute of Jamaica, (1990)
p. 22. In subsequent references this collection wil Ibe referred to as TS and the relevant page
numbers given in the text.
2. Elean Thomas "Child Abusel" Word Rhythms From the Life of a Woman (1986) London: Karia
Press. Subsequent references to this collection will be by page number within the text.
3. Goodison "Bend Down Plaza" / Am Becoming My Mother,(1986), London, Beacon Books, p.11. In
subsequent references this collection will be referred to as I Am and the relevant page num-
bers provided within the text.
4. See for example Marjorie Agosin Silencio e imaginaci6n (1986) Mexico: Ed. Katun and Carole
Boyce Davies and Elaine Savory Fido (eds.) Out of the Kumbla (1990) New Jersey, Africa World
5. Pat Ellis (ed). Women of the Caribbean (1986) Kingston Publishers Ltd. p. 77.

The United States and Haiti: An Exercise in Intervention*



In September 1991, Haiti's newly elected President, Father Jean Bertrand
Aristide, was deposed by components of the Haitian military. Within two weeks of
the coup, the Haitian military killed 1,000 Haitians. By the end of the year another
500 were murdered (Return to the Darkest Days, 1991). Three years later the
United States invaded Haiti with the intention of returning Aristide to power and
restoring democracy in that country. The invasion represented an instance where
the international community (the UN) sanctioned the use of force (organized and
led by the US) to reinstall a president and end the violence against a defenceless
people whose only crime was a desire for a democratic way of life.
This paper explores the degree to which the 1994 United States-led
intervention contributed to or impeded democracy in Haiti. In his classic 1959
article, "Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Politi-
cal Legitimacy," Seymour Martin Lipset defines democracy as a form of govern-
ment in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them
indirectly through a system of representation and delegated authority in which the
people choose their officials by way of periodically held elections (Lipset, 1959). In
other words, the ultimate authority belongs to the people (Przeworski, 1985).
Nearly six years have passed since the U.S.-led invasion of Haiti. During this
period little scholarship as been written about this important event (Morley and
McGillion, 1997; Dupuy, 1997; Niblack, 1995; Weber, 1995; Perusse, 1995; Resi-
man, 1994). Of the work that has been published, few writers have tried to
determine the extent to which U.S. intervention helped promote or stymie democ-
racy in Haiti. Furthermore, these works have not sufficiently dealt with this ques-
tion in any expansive manner as all of the literature was written a mere 2 or 3 years
after the event transpired, thus precluding any far-reaching analysis. This essay
seeks to fill that void. Before proceeding with an examination of the US-led
intervention and subsequent invasion it would be useful to provide a brief history of
Haiti's political, social and economic troubles in order to put the paper into context.
Haiti's Historical Political Landscape
The political, economic and social order in Haiti has been plagued with
violence, corruption and famine throughout its history. According to Weinstein and
Segal, Haiti is considered to be the poorest country in the world (Weinstein and
Segal, 1992). It has had a long history of non-democratic governments. Haiti won
its independence in 1804 thereby becoming the first black republic to do so in the
New World (Bellegarde-Smith, 1988). After more than 100 years of precarious

independence the United States invaded the country in 1915. The assassination
of President Jean Sam, the sixth president to meet a violent death since 1911,
provided President Woodrow Wilson with a convenient reason to justify the action
(Schmidt, 1971). Other arguments were based on the threat to American life and
investments, and the fear with World War I in progress that Germany might attempt
to seize the island of Hispaniola.
Haitian insurrectionists were active during the next five years, but all were
squashed by United States armed forces. The United States placed in office a
series of puppet presidents, established a customs receivership, and ruled the
nation through a military high commission. Hence, it is not surprising that Haitians
wielded little influence in the administration of their own affairs (Plummer, 1992). In
1922 a large U.S. bank loan to Haiti was arranged. The loan provided for generous
interest payments to foreign bond holders (mostly Americans), but little of the
principalwas invested in public works or productive enterprises, and the cost of
redeeming the balance proved to be a great drain on the Haitian economy (Schmidt
1971). In addition, discontent was fanned by repeated postponements of a prom-
ised presidential election.
United States policy finally changed in 1930 after a special commission,
appointed by President Herbert Hoover, reported that political stability had re-
placed chaos in Haiti, that some roads and public buildings had been constructed,
and that medical facilities had been expanded. On the recommendation of the
commission, a legislature empowered to choose a president was elected by the
Haitians. On November 18, 1930 Stevio Vincent, one of the most ardent oppo-
nents of the U.S. occupation, was selected as Haiti's president (Schmidt, 1971).
The United States however refused to relinquish its control of Haiti's finances
entirely, but promised to end its armed occupation. The last of the U.S. marines
were withdrawn on August 21,1934, ending an eighteen-year reign.
Since that time Haiti has experienced one chaotic political regime after
another, which in some sense brings into question the effectiveness of the eighteen
year effort by the United States to restore lasting economic, social and political
order in Haiti. Before the 1990 elections, political conditions in Haiti showed little
sign of improvement. The election of Aristide in 1990 constituted the sixth presi-
dent since the ouster of Jean-Claude Duvalier (Baby Doc) in 1986 (Trouillot, 1990).
The violence, oppression and unremitting poverty that characterized the chaos in
the final years of the Baby Doc regime resulted in the influx of Haitians to America's
shores in the 1980s. Prior to that, Haitians endured the dictatorship of Francis
"Papa Doc" Duvalier for 24 years. The elder Duvalier administration fostered an
atmosphere where murder, corruption, intimidation and poverty were the order of
the day. Under Papa Doc's rule, at least 50,000 people were killed, millions were
driven into exile and many of those who remained were tortured (Abbott, 1988).
For years (Papa Doc) Duvalier encountered little opposition to his leadership as
president of Haiti. Moreover, the Duvalier administration intimidated those who

dared to run against him. When elections were held they were makeshift at best
and were usually conducted in a way to prevent citizens who were thought to be
anti-Duvalier from voting. Papa Doc co-opted members of the military and formed
a religious terrorist outfit known as the Tontons Macoutes to instil fear in those who
opposed his regime (Abbott, 1988). The Duvalier administration also embezzled
money from the country's treasury, thus keeping the masses poor (Aristide, 1996).
One could argue that the impact of the Duvalier regime was so profound that it is,
in large part, the reason why the country has been unable to sustain an enduring
Democracy some twenty years later. In March 1990, after the fall of the fifth regime
in five years, Madame Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, the first female Supreme Court
justice in Haiti, was appointed provisional president of Haiti (Wisner, 1995). Trouil-
lot accepted the office but renounced any intention of retaining it. Her sole purpose
was to organize free elections in Haiti. In the ten years since the end of the
Duvalier dynasty, only one of nine elections was acknowledged by all parties and
international observers as being free and fair: that presidential election occurred on
December 16, 1990, which brought about the election of Aristide.
Mode of Analysis
In an attempt to assess the extent, to which the United States invasion of
Haiti in 1994 contributed to or impeded Democracy, several factors/issues are
examined. First, the authorization of sanctions will be studied. If the United States
was committed to restoring Democracy, then it is reasonable to assume that the
United States would employ sanctions in the form of trade, financial arms and
embargoes against the Haitian military junta. A related factor might be its efforts to
get other countries to participate in sanctions as well to ensure greater compliance
on the part of the Haitian military junta. A second issue that is examined is the
United States' use of economic aid. The withholding of economic aid from Haiti
would indicate some commitment on the part of the U.S. to get the coup leaders to
cease the violence and consider restoring Democracy. Indeed, the notion of
manipulating or cutting off aid disbursements to countries where human rights
abuses are rampant has been a long standing practice by the United States (Poe
and Tate, 1994; McCormick and Mitchell, 1989). Third, after troops were dis-
patched, what actions were taken to restore order? A fourth issue to be considered
is the conditions under which Aristide was eventually returned to power. It has
been argued that Aristide was forced to make a number of compromises in return
for his reinstallation as president. It would be interesting to see if these compro-
mises usurped his power as president. And finally, the author will study the support
given by the United States to foster free and democratic elections after Aristide's
presidential term ended. The period of investigation for this study is 1990 to 1999.
These years were chosen because it is important to chronicle the political affairs of
Haiti from 1990 when Aritstide came to power, to 1999, five years after the
intervention and invasion.
The Election and Administration of Jean Bertrand Aristide

In order to gain a fuller understanding of contemporary Haitian politics, it is
important to know how Aristide came to power. Since the overthrow of the Duvalier
regime, Aristide had emerged as the most visible and important symbol of resis-
tance to the corrupt and oppressive neo-Duvalierist dictatorships (Laguerre, 1993).
His humble origins set him apart from most other politicians, who were from affluent
backgrounds, and played a major role in his identification with the impoverished
majority and their allegiance to him. An ardent proponent of liberation theology, he
soon emerged as one of the most outspoken leaders of the radicalized ecclesiasti-
cal base community movement Ti Legliz (the little church).
The fusion of mysticism, martyrdom, and anti-macoutism added a messi-
anic character to Aristide's leadership and immediately won him the devotion of a
population, that crushed by the abject exploitation of the dominant classes and
violence of the dictatorships and steeped in its own religious mysticism was ready
to accept a saviour (Pierre-Charles, 1991). Through his words and actions, Aris-
tide revealed a charismatic authority. He had developed what A.W. Singham
argues is needed by a charismatic leader: a keen understanding of the cultural and
social relations that governs the lives of ordinary citizens, coupled with the ability to
express their grievances in national terms and to exploit his personal relationship
with them to build a mass movement (Singham, 1968). Similarly, Max Weber
argued that the charismatic hero does not obtain his authority from established
orders or official enactments. Rather, it is through actions by performing "mir-
acles" or heroic deeds that the charismatic leader proves his powers. The recog-
nition of a charismatic leader by the followers "derives from the surrender of the
faithful to the extraordinary and unheard of, to what is alien to all regulation and
tradition and therefore viewed as divine" (Weber, 1968). For the masses, Aristide,
already known through his radical sermons and his pastoral work, was the only one
who could stand up to and not compromise with the macoutes and who, guided by
the light of God, could rid the country of the Duvalierist scourge that had terrorized
and devastated the entire country.
In October 1990, as the presidential election neared, the democratic sector
faced a grim political scenario. The oligarchy's candidate, Roger LaFontant,
former head of the Tontons Macoutes (a terrorist outfit founded by Papa Doc), was
garnering supportt among Duvalierists and holding mass demonstrations. The
principal challenge to LaFontant was former World Bank official Marc Bazin, whose
electoral machine, financed by the United States primarily through the National
Endowment for Democracy (NED), was gaining momentum. The democratic
sector by contrast was in disarray. Under the banner of the National Front for
Change and Democracy (FNCD), it fielded a lackluster candidate, Victor Benoit, a
college professor with whom the masses were completely uninterested (Dupuy,
1997). Faced with flagging political fortunes, the traditional bourgeoisie turned to
Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who symbolized the aspirations of the Haitian
masses. Up to that point Aristide had rejected the idea of elections, especially U.S.
sponsored elections, until there were structural reforms in Haitian society. Aristide

would receive support from a broad spectrum of the population including the
traditional bourgeoisie. Realizing the result of a Bazin-LaFontant contest would be
an US-Duvalierist compromise similar to Jean-Claude Duvalier's regime, the bour-
geoisie encouraged Aristide to enter the race. Benoit was unceremoniously
dumped, and Aristide became the presidential candidate of the FNCD.
The essence of Aristide's promise was democracy and nationalism. He
vowed to work for land redistribution and an end to the Duvalierist favouritism,
corruption and violence that had so traumatized the Haitian people since Papa
Doc's rule began in 1957 In contrast, both the technocrats and the democratic
sector had often proposed "reconciling" with the Duvalierists and reuniting the
"Haitian family" (Ives, 1995). Aristide also embodied anti-imperialism. "We would
rather die standing up, than live on our knees," he often repeated during his
sermons (Maguire, 1997). He was a staunch opponent of the U.S. neo-liberal
prescriptions for Haiti, which sought to:
1) privatize state-run enterprises like the telephone company, flour mill and
cement factory,
2) reduce taxes, duties and wages to suit foreign investors,
3) cut social spending and ensure regular debt payments to foreign banks
4) foster an export-oriented economy, thereby increasing Haiti's already
great dependence on foreign food and capital (Aristide, 1996).

Aristide's campaign platform called for supporting Haiti's faltering national indus-
tries, revitalizing Haitian agriculture and increasing self-sufficiency through land
reform, stanching the haemorrhage of contraband imports through regional ports,
raising the minimum wage and overhauling the government bureaucracy.
Aristide's electoral victory with 67.5% of the vote, was one of the most
noteworthy events in Haitian history. His entry into the presidential race only sixty
days before the polling allowed him to outwit election strategists at the U.S.
Embassy, who did not anticipate his candidacy. During the campaign Aristide
spoke of politically, socially and economically empowering the country's majority
peasant population and reforming key state institutions, including the armed forces.
The popular will triumphed momentarily with little violence or repression. Aristide
dubbed his inauguration, "Haiti's Second Independence" (Ives, 1995). Upon enter-
ing office, Aristide encountered two centres of resistance: a local economic lite
that branded him a "Bolshevik" and a military leadership that opposed his efforts to
reform the institution and implement existing constitutional provisions affirming
civilian authority over the armed forces (Morley and McGillion, 1997). Neverthe-
less, once in office Aristide immediately proceeded to improve the livelihood of his
countrymen. Soon after taking office, Aristide's administration made three main
proposals for economic reform: to impose price controls on basic food items, raise

the hourly minimum wage to a combined cash and benefit total of 75 cents per hour
and enforce legally required social security taxes. Many of Aristide's opponents
took exception to these developments and greeted them with outrage. He also
made an appeal to the rich to share their wealth. He formulated government
programmess to reduce illiteracy, cut government waste, fight corruption, and stop
the cocaine traffic through Haiti, the control of which had been a traditional "perk"
of senior Haitian military officers. Furthermore, Aristide set out to make reforms in
the areas of health and agriculture. One of his major successes was to persuade
international lenders to pledge nearly $450 million in aid (Dupuy, 1997).
The cessation of political violence was also a priority of Aristide's govern-
ment. Aristide deemed it important to "defang" the armed forces by separating
them from the police and creating a civilian-controlled constabulary (Aristide,
1996). He also earmarked $6 million to improve soldiers working conditions
(Dupuy, 1997; Aristide, 1996). As a result of these efforts, the country's human
rights record, as monitored by America's Watch, improved dramatically (Ives,
1995). Consequently, significantly fewer Haitians fled the country. Interestingly, it
was these developments that would serve as the basis for the overthrow of
Aristide. The elite feared that Aristide, with the support of the masses, would
ferment a rebellion against the 200 year-old feudal system they administered
(Farmer, 1994). While some have argued that Aristide's overall record in office was
weak, one would be remiss to ignore the commendable strides that were made in
reducing corruption, collecting more tax revenue, quelling violence, introducing
democratic norms and creating international respect for Haiti (Maguire, 1997). In
short, Aristide had begun the process of empowering the country's downtrodden.
In doing so, Aristide not only antagonized the Haitian business community but also
U.S. investors with his proposals to double the minimum wage, initiate new public
works projects, make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, impose export levies
on assembly plant operators, and support the growth of trade unions. All of these
trends were reversed once coup leaders took over. Among the leaders were
Lieutenant General Raoul Cedras, Roger LaFontant, and Major Michel Francois of
the Haitian police and members of the Tontons Macoutes. Ironically, Cedras had
been the Commander-in-Chief of the Haitian army whom Aristide himself had
appointed on July 3, 1991.
Some observers have maintained that the coup was ignited in part by
Aristide's governance style. Instead of governing as a president, where compro-
mise and coalition building are essential for a successful government, Aristide
governed as a leader of the opposition with fiery and antagonistic rhetoric. He
lacked the attributes that would have moved his opponents into his own orbit and
would have situated them into his own programmatic strategy of social change.
Aristide's incapacity to go beyond his own political base precipitated his downfall in
October of 1991, one month after Aristide was deposed; the coup leaders installed
Supreme Court Justice Nerette as provisional president of Haiti. Three years later,
after Nerette outlived his usefulness, the coup leaders disposed of him and in-

stalled Judge Emil Jonaissant, head of the Haitian Supreme Court, but the real
power remained in the hands of the coup leaders.
From 1991 to 1994, hundreds of Aristide supporters were raped and
murdered (Canham-Clyne, 1994). During this period the United States partici-
pated in a number of negotiations with the coup leaders in an attempt to get them
to cease the killing spree and surrender (Dupuy, 1997; Perusse, 1995). When
coup leaders ignored the pleas of the United States, measures were taken to
encourage compliance, which eventually led to the much-publicized invasion in
U.S. Efforts to Restore Democracy
The Bush Administration engaged in a number of activities that were
purportedly aimed at restoring Democracy in Haiti. In an effort to pressure the
Haitian military junta to cease its repression of the Haitian masses, the United
States implemented sanctions that appeared severe, but proved to have mixed
results. The United States employed sanctions in the form of an embargo. Months
after the 1991 coup, Organization of American States' (OAS) ministers drafted a
resolution to embargo and diplomatically isolate the renegade regime. Interest-
ingly, it was not until 30 days later that President Bush ordered U.S. compliance
with the trade and oil embargo. Moreover, it proved tough only on paper. The
Washington Administration never fully enforced it against the coup-participants.
The restrictions were jauntily breached by exporters and importers not only from
Europe, but from the United States and Latin America as well. In Port-au-Prince,
rich families who had helped finance the coup, made fortunes selling goods at
inflated prices. Oil tankers from Europe soon replaced those from Venezuela and
Mexico. This blatant disregard for policy was made possible in part because
President Bush's commitment to restore democracy in Haiti waned precipitously as
time went on.
In late 1990, Bush in accordance with his call for a New World Order
announced that "all of the Americas and the Caribbean must embark on a venture
for the coming century to create the first fully democratic hemisphere in the history
of mankind" (Pastor, 1992). Shortly thereafter, Bush endorsed an effort led by
former president Jimmy Carter to observe the 1990 presidential election process in
order to ensure that all parties would accept it as fair. The president also promised
aid for the new president. After Aristide was deposed the Bush administration
appeared committed to helping reinstalling him as president. Bush's Secretary of
State, James Baker, declared that the junta would "be treated as a pariah, without
friends, without support, without a future...." (Ives, 1994). Some argue that Bush's
interest in restoring Aristide to power had to do with wanting to prevent scores of
Haitians from fleeing to the United States. If Aristide were returned to power the

number of Haitians leaving the island in hopes of seeking refuge in the states would
subside considerably.
By 1991, for reasons that are unclear, the Bush administration began to
back away from unconditional support for Aristide's return. Support for Aristide
would be contingent upon his willingness to accept limitations on his presidential
powers. By mid-1992, while still going through the motions of calling for the
restoration of Aristide's government, the Bush administration was simultaneously
encouraging the exiled leader to negotiate with the new military-imposed Prime
Minister Marc Bazin, a former World Bank official and the favoured Bush candidate
in the 1990 presidential election. Morley and McGillion assert that during this
process State Department officials "dropped the none-too-subtle hint that if Aristide
passed up this important window of opportunity, the United States may drop or
ease the embargo" (Morley and McGillion, 1997; Hockstader and Farah, 1992). To
make matters worse, Bush reinstated a 1981 agreement between Washington and
the Duvalier regime permitting the U.S. Coast Guard to intercept refugee boats on
the high sea and return all undocumented passengers to Haiti. Commenting on
this action by the Bush administration, Cheryl Little, a lawyer with the Haitian
Refugee Service in Miami exclaimed: "They're treating these people like cattle. It's
inhumane and cruel" (Civil rights groups, 1991). At one point in the fall of 1991, the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a black civil rights group, threatened
that, if the government did not let Haitians picked up at sea into the U.S. they would
charter boats and transport Haitians to Florida themselves (Civil rights groups,
In early 1992 Bush ordered the Coast Guard to summarily repatriate any
Haitians picked up at sea and returned to Haiti. By the end of 1992, more than
29,500 Haitians had been forcibly returned to Haiti (Mills, 1996). Although the
policy flagrantly violates the fundamental principles of international asylum law,
Bush attempted to justify it by denying that there was systematic repression in
Haiti. "I am convinced," he said on May 28, 1992 in Marietta, Georgia, "that the
people in Haiti are not being physically oppressed. I would not want on my
conscience that anyone that was fleeing oppression would be victimized upon
return" (Silencing a People, 1993). This action by Bush for all intents and purposes
curbed the refugee crisis, subsequently the pressure to restore Aristide to power
diminished as well (Pastor, 1997; Koch, 1993; Martin, 1993).
Squashing the refugee problem removed any need to send US troops to
Haiti to reinstall Aristide as president. Other factors that could explain why Bush
opted not to invade Haiti may include the fact that the United States was already
involved in Desert Storm hence some politicians argued that the US could ill afford
to divert her attention elsewhere. In addition, Bush saw his presidential approval
rating soar to record heights by the end of the Gulf War, consequently there was
little incentive on his part to invade Haiti. Ostrom and Job (1986) suggest that
when the president's popularity is declining, it "will be natural for him to pursue

actions that will deflect attention away from failure. A 'successful,' highly visible
use of force may be seen as a needed tonic" to bolster his political fortunes. The
Gulf War served this purpose. Another factor that could help explain why Bush did
not invade Haiti has to do with the American economy. At the time that Haiti was
becoming a problem the economy was on an upswing recently coming out of a
recession. The condition of the economy is thought to affect the president's
decision to go to war because of its importance in shaping the public's opinion of
his performance and its effect on electoral outcomes. In light of this, given the
extremely high ratings Bush received for his handling of the Gulf War conflict and
the improving economy, launching an invasion into Haiti could have proved detri-
mental to his approval rating as there was no where for his approval rating to go but
down (James and O'Neal, 1991).
Early in the Clinton Administration, the president pushed through Security
Council Resolution 917, which stiffened the embargo against Haiti again on paper,
but not necessarily on its borders (Lewis, 1994). The 1991 sanctions targeted oil
and weapons, while this measure cut all trade (except food and medicine) and all
non-commercial air traffic with Haiti. However, these measures did little to pres-
sure the putschists from power. Instead, they just increased the flow of Haitian
commerce across the Dominican border, which remained open throughout the
crisis. Said Berton Wides, one of Aristide's lawyers: "These sanctions are being
drafted in a way that sets them up for failure. They are so half-hearted that they
almost seem designed to fail so that the United States Administration can say, I told
you so" (Ives, 1995). Ben Dupuy, one of Haiti's foremost radical journalists
exclaimed that, "if the United States was sincere in its opposition to the coup, it
would have been easy to get rid of the military by enforcing the UN embargo. If
Haiti did not receive petroleum for one or two months that would be the end.
Everything would come to a standstill" (Orenstein, 1995).
During the summer of 1994, to place additional pressure on Haitian military
leaders, the United States enlisted the assistance of Canada, the Netherlands, the
Dominican Republic and France. At the urging of the United States all of these
countries stopped their commercial flights to Haiti. The United States also went
after coup leaders, banning their international financial transactions (which were
long since depleted) and freezing their assets and bank accounts (which were long
since emptied). Money transfers from Haitians in the United States to their families
in Haiti, which account for the vast bulk of the country's foreign revenue, were
slashed to $50 per person per month, helping to fuel escalating desperation
(Preston, 1994). Ironically, the Haitian military junta responded to these sanctions
by increasing their repression of the Haitian masses. Moreover, the embargo
failed to unseat the junta and placed enormous hardship on the poor people of
Haiti. In a study titled, The Impact of Economic Sanctions on Health and Human
Rights in Haiti 1991-1994, Gibbons and Garfield (1999) argue that the UN sanc-

tions affected the lives of the Haitian masses in many different ways. For example,
during the embargo, the mortality rate for children increased to 1,000 per month.
Beyond that, damage was done to nutrition, education and child-rearing practices
in an already very poor country. Simply put, the sanctions, especially the fuel
embargo, were designed and implemented without respect for protecting the right
to work, to education or to a decent standard of living. All of these rights are
specified in treaties and conventions signed by the UN, the OAS and the United
States. In the end the sanctions reduced the desperately poor economy of Haiti to
the brink of disaster and compelled thousands of Haitians to risk their lives on the
high seas in makeshift vessels in order to seek asylum in the United States (Leigh,
1995). As a way of quelling the flow of Haitians into the United States, the Clinton
administration tried to get other Caribbean countries to take in some of the
refugees, at least temporarily.
On July 31, 1994, the Security Council passed resolution 940, which
authorized the use of military force as a means of restoring order in Haiti. This
resolution stated that the Security Council was:
Gravely concerned by the significant further dete-
rioration of the humanitarian situation in Haiti, in
particular the continuing escalation by the illegal
de facto regime of systematic violations of civil
liberties, the desperate plight of Haitians refu-

It determined that "the situation in Haiti continues to constitute a threat to interna-
tional peace in the region... "Hence, on September 19, 1994, the deployment of
20,000 US troops were dispatched to the island with the intention of counteracting
the increasing repression by the Haitian military and reinstalling Aristide as presi-
dent. The troops were dispatched with the approval of the American people.
According to an USA Today/CNN Gallop Poll, 56% of the American people said
they supported an invasion (Ives, 1995). The deployment of troops represented a
more substantive effort on the part of the United States to restore democracy.
Human rights violations significantly decreased after US troops arrived in the
country. Using the presence of the troops Aristide dismissed all of the highest-
ranking officers in the military. The dissolution of the Armed Forces of Haiti was
also essential for the renewal of the democratic process. As long as the FADH
remained a powerful and autonomous institution, those who controlled it would
have sought to subvert the democratic process and revert to dictatorship to
preserve their power and privileges. Furthermore, the need for order in general
was as important as the need to dismantle the armed forces. This meant that the
popular movement had to be prevented from engaging in acts of retribution against
the members of the military and the attache death squads, thereby avoiding a

potential descent into a bloody civil war. Protecting the members of the armed
forces, death squads, and the bourgeoisie that supported the coup was a neces-
sary step toward democratization (Preston, 1994). Many argue that the greatest
triumph of U.S. forces was the virtual destruction of the Front for the Advancement
and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH), a recently formed neo-Duvalierist death squad
(Aristide, 1996). United States forces raided its headquarters in the capitol city of
Port-au-Prince, arresting 35 members of this organization and seizing a large
cache of weapons (Dupuy, 1997). Similar actions were also taken against FRAPH
in the city of Cap-Haitian.
Although a number of Americans and a number of Republicans in Con-
gress opposed U.S. military intervention to force Lieutenant General Raoul Cedras'
de facto military regime to step down and return the presidency to Aristide,
President Clinton's decision to send troops under the UN mandate has been widely
viewed as a success (Reisman, 1995). To be sure, military intervention is not a
panacea for all the ills that plague a society. Its only objective is to reinstate an
elected civilian government when all else fails. That it does not simultaneously
reconstruct an economy and solve all the other problems that existed in that
country does not mean that it failed.
It should be noted that the United States later announced a plan to provide
$5 million for stipends and civilian retraining of Haitian soldiers (Niblack, 1995).
This plan involved the International Criminal Investigations Training and Assis-
tance Program (ICITAP), which is staffed by current and former agents of the FBI,
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Secret Service and U.S. police depart-
ments. The goal was to make Haitian soldiers more responsive to central (and
U.S. guided) control, not as prone to arbitrary and indiscriminate violence and
better versed in the surveillance of democratic and popular organizations. Candi-
dates for "professionalization" would receive training in the United States at the
School of the Americas. The irony is that the School of America has a well-known
reputation for having trained some of the most brutal military officers in the world.
The United States also took measures to ensure free elections to be held
in 1995 (Rohter, 1996). The U.S. agreed to keep forces in Haiti as stipulated in
LJN Security Council Resolution 940 that is, until the end of Aristide's term and
the transfer of power to the newly elected government in February 1996 (Rohter,
1996). Without Aristide, the population would not have participated in the parlia-
mentary, municipal, and local elections of June (and September) 1995 or the
presidential election of December 1995 because those elections would have been
considered illegitimate. Without those elections, there would have been no demo-
cratic renewal, and the state would have remained pitted against civil society since
those who governed would be doing so without the consent of the people. Former
President Carter, General Colin Powell and U.S. Senator Sam Nunn returned to
Haiti in late February to pave the way for parliamentary elections scheduled for

Even though the United States government engaged in activities that
appeared to support democracy in Haiti, it could be argued that both the Bush and
Clinton administrations pursued a dual policy. On the one hand, they publicly
condemned the coup d'etat and refused to accept any of the governments installed
by the military leaders between October 1991 and September 1994. On the other
hand, both administrations pressured Aristide to make concessions to his enemies.
Jesse L. Jackson criticized the administration for pushing Aristide to negotiate with
a "fascist military" (Greenhouse, 1994). Those concessions included: granting a
general amnesty for the coup leaders and reigning in the popular movement
through a politics of "reconciliation" with the anti-democratic camp; forming a
broader-based government that included representatives from the bourgeoisie who
opposed Aristide and supported the coup against him; accepting the U.S. neo-lib-
eral agenda developed by the USAID and the multilateral lending and regulatory
institutions; and agreeing to hold new presidential elections in 1995 and not to
reclaim the years Aristide lost from his five-year term due to the coup (Dupuy,
1997). Robert Falton, Jr. maintains that while U.S. intervention undoubtedly con-
tributed to political stability in Haiti, it inevitably deradicalized Aristide, transforming
him from an anti-capitalist prophet into a staunch American ally committed to the
virtues of the market. The consequences of this reality could have grave, debilitat-
ing effects on the consolidation of Haitian democracy. Additionally, in the fall of
1994, the United States allowed the military to consolidate its power and pursue a
campaign of terror against the popular democratic movement and Aristide's sup-
porters (Maguire, 1997). By the time the U.S.-led forces ended the junta's rule in
September 1994, the human toll for their three year reign was staggering: An
estimated 4,000 people were killed, approximately 300,000 became internal refu-
gees, thousands more fled across the border to the Dominican Republic, and more
than 60,000 took to the sea on rafts, inner tubes and other unseaworthy vessels to
seek asylum in the United States (Maguire, 1997).
An equally disconcerting matter is the slowness of judicial reform. Little
has been done by the United States to help revamp Haiti's obsolete and corrupt
court system (Dupuy, 1997; Ives, 1995). There can be no democracy without an
independent judiciary. Judges are appointed and promoted by the government;
they are often poorly qualified and paid, as are court officials. Legal codes are
obsolete, as are court facilities (Maguire, 1997). To date, the government has not
pressed charges against anyone involved in the most prominent political assassi-
nation cases. By early December 1995, the multinational forces were holding only
22 coup participants nationwide, even though it is estimated that between 200 and
300 suspects had been apprehended and handed over to them by the Haitian
masses (Rubin, 1997). The weaknesses of the judicial system are mirrored in the
prisons, which since 1986 have seen only minor improvements (Ives, 1995).
Simply put, the judiciary system is arbitrary and riddled with corruption in civil and
criminal matters.
Why did the United States Intervene?

When Aristide was deposed as president of Haiti thousands of Aristide
supporters fled the country for fear that they would be subjected to violent and
repressive acts from Aristide's opponents. Over a twelve month period 7,734
Haitians fled to the United States in search of asylum (French, 1993). Some
claimed that the majority of Haitians were fleeing their country for economic
reasons rather than political reasons. Refugees who seek asylum in the U.S. are
admitted only if they are doing so for political reasons and not always then (Koh,
1993; Martin, 1993). Economic refugees are not permitted entry into the United
States. Haitians had been attempting to reach the U.S. by boat for many years,
and the Coast Guard routinely interdicted them and returned them to Haiti under
the pretext that they were simply opportunistic job seekers. Between 1981 and
1990, 24,000 Haitians were interdicted, while only six were allowed to make
asylum claims in the United States (Mills, 1996). Following the coup, the Coast
Guard began taking Haitians to the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
where they were "screened in" to make claims. If Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS) adjudicators determined the refugees had a "credible fear" of perse-
cution, they were "screened in" to the U.S. for a full-blown political asylum hearing;
if not, they were shipped back to Haiti (Mills, 1996).
The overthrow of President Aristide and the possible influx of Haitian
refugees attracted the attention of the media and politicians alike. In the fall of
1994, three years after Aristide was ousted, President Clinton announced plans to
invade the Caribbean Island. Interestingly, the intervention came only weeks
before the agreement allowing for the repatriation of Haitians was to have expired.
Twenty thousand U.S. troops entered Haiti after an U.S. delegation composed of
former President Carter, Gen. Colin L. Powell and U.S. Senator Sam Nunn of
Georgia concluded negotiations with coup leaders. It has been argued that the
only threat serious enough to prompt intervention by the U.S. was the prospect of
thousands more poor, black refugees making their way north to America. The fear
of widespread illegal immigration may explain in part United States' intervention.
The US has had a long-standing concern about the flow of tens of thousands of
illegal immigrants to the US from Haiti and the Caribbean basin in general (Dupuy,
1997). Paul Farmer (1994) argues that United States' foreign policy discourse on
Haiti constructed the Haitians as a threat to the U.S. population in terms of public
health (carriers of HIV and AIDS), employment access (competitors for US jobs),
and morality (spreading unpopular religious views such as voodoo and the like).
Thus Aristide's return to Haiti had become essential as it was the only way the
United States government could stem the flow of Haitian refugees, which trans-
formed Haiti from a problem into a crisis. An observation made by Patrick Beli-
garde-Smith, a renowned scholar of Haitian politics, supports this argument:
On September 15, announcing what he then ex-
pected to be an armed invasion of Haiti, Clinton
buried in the middle of the speech the most im-

portant point: he talked about "the safety of our
borders" code words. He talked about the
300,000 internal exiles in the mountains of Haiti
who could legitimately come to the United States
because they are, indeed, political refugees
black people, mostly peasants, who qualify for
political asylum. This was the key element, and I
think the American public was astute enough to
recognize it: we have to protect our borders, so
we have to invade Haiti or Haitians will invade us.
Aside from the prospect of thousands of Haitian refugees coming into the
United States, several other factors could account for the decision to intervene in
Haiti's political affairs. Some have argued that the U.S. invasion came as a result
of pressure from lobbyists and interest groups. Students and faculty took part in
hunger strikes on various campuses throughout the United States. Hunger strikes
took place at such prestigious and influential institutions of higher learning as Yale,
Harvard, Brown, Michigan, Columbia and Georgetown universities (Maguire,
1997). The most widely publicized hunger strike was conducted by Randall Robin-
son. In April of 1994 Robinson, the leader of the lobbying group TransAfrica
engaged in a hunger strike to protest the Administration's policy toward Haitian
refugees. "I'm just asking that the President simply grant hearings before forcibly
repatriating people, he said. To interdict people and then turn them back to be
killed makes the President complicit in the killing of those people. We don't treat
any other refugees that way. This policy, if not racist in intent, is racist in effect"
(Robinson, 1994; Merida, 1994). A month prior to Robinson's hunger strike the
Congressional Black Caucus and liberal Democratic members of Congress intro-
duced a bill calling for tougher U.S. measures against the Haitian junta (Merida,
Another, but less convincing explanation for the invasion is America's
concern with human life. After all, for decades the US supported brutal and
murderous military regimes in the Caribbean in general and Haiti in particular,
including the thirty-year Duvalier dictatorship and the subsequent neo-Duvalierist
military-led governments (1986-1990) (Beardslee, 1996). This "human life" argu-
ment was first used by the Bush administration to justify its policy of returning
refugees to their homeland. The boats were unseaworthy as well as overcrowded,
it was said. Intercepting those boats meant saving their occupants from drowning.
"For Haitians who do seek to leave Haiti, boat departure is a terrible and dangerous
choice," said President Clinton shortly before his inauguration. Clinton pointed out
that the Haitians would not be heading to the U.S. if the states were not so close.
And since this problem is "in our own backyard it seems logical to offer assistance
in ameliorating it" (Greenhouse, 1994). The President also emphasized the need
to stop human-rights abuses in Haiti. In a speech where he justified the need for

an invasion, Clinton held General Cedras' regime responsible for human rights
violations that included the execution of children, raping of women and the killing of
priests (Federal News Service, Note I p. 3). Said Clinton: "Let me be clear, General
Cedras and his accomplices alone are responsible for this suffering and terrible
human tragedy" (Weber, 1995).
In short, the deployment of United States troops could be interpreted as a
humanitarian effort to end the violence and restore stability to Haiti by reinstalling
its first popularly elected leader. Aristide's record as a champion of the poor
Haitian majority in some sense supports such a claim. On the other hand, the
Carter-Cedras agreement that resulted from the Carter/Nunn/Powell negotiations
paradoxically suggests that the violation of Haitian human rights was not a top
priority for the Clinton administration. This agreement allowed the Cedras govern-
ment to stay in power for approximately one month after the agreement was
signed, and US forces stood by during this time while human rights abuses
continued in their presence.
A more likely reason for the invasion may be related to the issue of
stability. Since World War II, the executive leadership of the United States has
used the issue of national security to act in many situations. Stability has been
used to justify US interventions, and it has historically been linked with that of
national security (Beardslee, 1996). The tacit assumptions behind US security
strategy since the Cold War have always been "to foster a world environment in
which the American system can survive and flourish," as the passage in the 1950
National Security Council document (NSC 68) that outlined US Cold War strategy
put it. Stability and security were simply facets of an ideological paradigm put forth
along with other principles (upholding democracy and world order, defending the
vital interests of the US) to justify US interventions in the Third World. By stability,
the US has historically meant governments that promoted the free enterprise
system, and played by the rules of the international capitalist system and accepted
their place in the international division of labour, and did not challenge the global
dominance of the United States. Alex Dupuy maintains that Washington has never
equated stability or security with democracy in the truest sense; only whether the
government in power maintains the status quo (Dupuy, 1997). For many countries
in the Caribbean in the 20th century, the status quo only be maintained with
repressive military governments. The US has intervened in the affairs of Carib-
bean countries throughout this century to overthrow governments or to lend sup-
port to dictatorships in the name of stability and security. Securing stability under
the guise of promoting democracy in the Western Hemisphere forcecloses outside
powers from gaining influence over a strategically positioned neighboring state.
As far as the Clinton administration was concerned, in the case of Haiti, the outside
power was Cuba and to a lesser degree, Russia. Horblitt and McCarry speak to
this point when they write that "historically US interests in Haiti have revolved
around ensuring that Haiti did not slip into the Soviet sphere of influence" (Horblitt
and McCarry, 1996).

Since the Cold War, propping up and backing brutal dictatorships in the
name of freedom and containment of communism lost its persuasiveness, and
stability and security came to be equated with democratic governments. The US
understood democratic government to mean those that did not challenge the rule
of law and property and did not tamper with the fundamental tenets of capitalism.
In the case of Haiti, when the Clinton administration realized that there would be no
stability there without the return of Aristide, military intervention became the most
viable option.
The last reason discussed in this paper has to do with economic interests.
The argument has been made that the U.S. invaded Haiti to protect its economic
interests. Contrary to popular belief, the United States has had a significant
economic presence in Haiti for years. The United States is Haiti's main trade
partner, and the volume of US-Haiti trade far exceeds that between Haiti and its
other trade partners (Dorsainvil, 1997). During the Reagan-Bush years, Haiti
emerged as an offshore platform for low-wage assembly of electronics, textiles,
and other products for re-export to the U.S. market. The Agency for International
Development (AID) aggressively promoted Haiti as a country ripe for foreign
investment. The island's primary attraction for U.S. capital lay in its cheap labour
and the political "stability" provided by decades of Duvalier family dictatorship. In
1982, the Reagan Department of Labor concluded (Labor Profile, 1982):
An abundant supply of labor is one of Haiti's
major attractions for foreign investors. Together
with political stability and proximity, it gives the
country a strong comparative advantage in labor-
intensive primary and assembly industries and in
the provision of tourism services for North Ameri-
can markets.
Joseph Tulchin argues that as far as the Caribbean is concerned the U.S.
has always made a concerted effort to remove any power or to prevent any
situation that might prove threatening to U.S. interests (Tulchin, 1994). Tulchin's
point is not without merit. In fact, after the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy
decided that the "replacement of Duvalier was a prerequisite to the achievement of
United States' interests in Haiti" The administration's sense of urgency was based
on the belief that the longer Duvalier stayed in power, the more likely he would be
replaced by a Castroite revolution, which would adversely impact American eco-
nomic relations in Haiti. Thirty years later President Clinton as much as admitted
America's economic stake in Haiti in his speech explaining the need for military
action. He said: "Now the US must protect our interests, to stop the brutal atrocities
that threaten tens of thousands of Haitians, to secure our borders, and to uphold
the reliability of the commitments we make and the commitments others make to
us" (Federal News Service, 1994). The order in which the President spoke of the
United States' concerns should be underscored. Prior to the September 1991

coup (the most recent figures available), U.S. investment was estimated to repre-
sent over 90% of total foreign investment in the country; 95% of Haiti's light-manu-
facturing exports were destined for the U.S. market (Dupuy, 1997). According to
the U.S. Commerce Department, the United States had "an estimated $120 million
($90 million excluding inventory) invested in Haiti as of early 1991" (Dupuy, 1997).
With the exception of several oil companies and banks (Texaco, Exxon, Bank of
Boston, Citibank), United States investment is almost entirely in the assembly
sector. It should also be noted that Reynolds Aluminum mined bauxite in Haiti for
years, though on a smaller scale than in other countries like Jamaica and Guyana
(Dupuy, 1989). The export assembly industries such as the manufacture of base-
balls and garments were also important to the United States.
It is worth mentioning that the National City Bank of New York was "very
much interested in Haiti," and the bank's vice president, Roger L. Farnham, "was
effectively instrumental in bringing about American intervention" (Wisner, 1995).
Farnham was said to be the representative of the State Department in matters
relating to the island republic (Wisner, 1995). During the occupation, the National
City Bank controlled the Banque Nationale d'Haiti. Farnham himself came and
went on American Navy ships, and was appointed receiver of the National Railroad
of Haiti. With the help of the State Department, the National City Bank sought 94
"exclusive monopoly upon the right to importing and exporting American and other
foreign money to and from Haiti, a monopoly which would carry unprecedented and
extraordinarily lucrative privilege" (Wisner, 1995).
Discussion and Conclusion
Despite the sometimes contradictory behaviour exhibited by the Bush and
Clinton administrations, by mid-1996 Haiti showed signs of going from a dictatorial
and human rights nightmare to a country where fledging democratic institutions
appeared to be taking root, and where newly elected public officials with consider-
able international aid were engaging in the task of rebuilding a country devastated
from years of authoritarian and military misrule. In a series of elections between
June and September 1995, Haitian citizens chose from among their peers a first
generation of municipal and parliamentary leaders dedicated to democracy, ac-
countability to the citizens, and the decentralization of the state (Pierre-Pierre,
1997). For the first time in its history, Haiti experienced a peaceful, democratic
presidential transition when President Jean-Bertrand Aristide left office to his
elected successor, Rene Preval, on February 7, 1996 (Rohter, 1997). For the first
time in 200 years the political mantle 'as voluntarily handed over to a democrati-
cally elected successor. In the presidential elections of December 17, 1995,
Aristide's protege Rene Preval won easily, receiving 87.9% of the votes. Less
encouraging is the fact that voter turnout was extremely low. Only 25 per cent of
registered voters voted. This is a stark contrast to the 1990 election where 63 per
cent of the eligible voters participated (Pastor, 1997). Why voter turnout was so
low in 1995 is unclear. On March 1,1996, the Security Council voted to extend its

responsibility for the security of the newly democratic Haiti for four months. In a
scenario of governance previously unknown in Haiti, negotiations then ensued
between the executive and legislative branches with municipal officials also
making their voices heard concerning the formulation of policies and budgetary
allocations (Maguire, 1997).
By mid-1996, human rights violations, out of control during the 1991-1994
period of de facto military rule, had declined so significantly that the joint United
Nations/Organization of American States International Civilian Mission in Haiti
(MICIVIH), overwhelmingly occupied since its creation in 1992 with charting and
reporting on human rights abuse, had refocused its efforts toward training and
educating civil society and elected leaders (Taft, 1996). Public security, previously
a pipe dream for most Haitians, improved markedly, becoming the domain of a
newly recruited and professionally trained national police force accountable to
civilian authorities and actively mentored by a UN-sponsored corps of French
speaking international police (CIVPOL). Robert Pastor submits that by 1996
Haitians felt more secure than they had at any time in their nation's history (Pastor,
1997). Recently though, UN peacekeepers ended their three year mission, hand-
ing over the job of protecting the nation's security to the civilian Haitian National
Police, a 6,000-strong force that has yet to win the public's confidence (Gates,
1997). Whether the number of violent acts continues to decrease under the Haitian
National Police as it did under the presence of UN peacekeepers remains to be
seen. An important task under the new democratic government is to create a
non-politicized security force that is subordinate to the legitimately elected civilian
leaders and obedient to the rule of law.
One could argue that these indicators of a hopeful future were made
possible largely because of three factors: 1) the US-led intervention and sub-
sequent 1994 invasion by the UN Multinational Force (MNF) that dislodged the de
facto military rulers and continued its presence as a UN peacekeeping mission
(UNMIH); 2) the subsequent demobilization of the Haitian Armed Forces and
disaggregation of paramilitary operatives functioning with impunity under its protec-
tion (Aristide, 1996); and 3) the unflagging determination of the vast majority of
Haitian citizens to bring democratic, political, economic, and social reforms to their
country (Holloway,1995). Despite the sometimes seemingly disingenuous and
contradictory behaviour by the Bush and Clinton administrations it is clear that the
U.S. played an important role in bringing about the first two developments. Without
the support of the United States government, however half-hearted, Haiti would not
have had a foundation (however fragile) on which to build a democracy. The
United States provided that foundation, if not in intent, then in result. Nevertheless,
it is the third factor that will ultimately bring about a long lasting democracy in Haiti.
Certainly many challenges remain as Haiti proceeds to strengthen its
democratic institutions and practices. This was never more evident than when
elections planned for 1998 were forestalled because the government was para-

lyzed for 18 months while President Preval and members of the Parliament
wrestled over candidates for Prime Minister. In January of 1999, President Preval
unilaterally dissolved the parliament striking a serious blow to Haiti's already frail
democracy (Kowalski, 1999). Preval claimed he was enforcing a constitutional
clause that said legislators' terms would end in January 1999. A large number of
politicians across party lines condemned Preval's move. According to a United
Nations report: "It seriously disrupted the system of checks and balances on which
the Haitian democratic process is based... The undermining of key representative
institutions and the further weakening of the authority of the state raise concerns
about the progress of Haiti's transition to democracy" (Zarin, 1999). Furthermore,
without a legislative body to approve the receipts of loans (a constitutional require-
ment), Haiti has been unable to access nearly $200 million in assistance from the
Inter-American Development Bank money that is badly needed for infrastructure
improvements, schools, hospitals and economic development. This financial snag
has helped plunge Haiti back into crisis. The resulting turmoil threatens to desta-
bilize the already frail democracy just months before new legislative elections,
which are slated for November 1999.
In a report to the UN Security Council in June 1996, the secretary-general
identified, among the multitude of challenges confronting Haiti and its international
partners, two that deserve top priority. The first is the critical need for the continued
presence of UNMIH, particularly to continue to provide a secure space and men-
toring for the still inexperienced Haitian National Police (Rubin, 1997). There has
been talk that all U.S. troops will soon be pulled out of Haiti leaving the National
Police to fend for itself (Wilhem, 1999). In fact, as of June 1999 the House of
Representatives voted to withdraw U.S. troops from Haiti. The senate is expected
to take up the issue soon. Without the 500 or so U.S. troops currently stationed in
Haiti, the supporters of competing political factions might be inclined to resort to the
bullet instead of the ballot in trying to win control of government. Indeed, there are
some that believe that violence will once again ensue if U.S. troops are withdrawn.
There have already been at least two assassinations in 1999 thus far. The most
recent occurred in April when a leader of the popular movement associated with
Aristide was killed, allegedly by the police. "We need a climate of security for the
Haitian people to go and vote without intimidation," said Olivier Nadal, president of
Haiti's chamber of commerce (Wickham, 1999). While the U.S. soldiers are small
in number, the impact of their presence is still so profound on those who may be
tempted to resort to widespread violence rather than reason to win control of
government. Colin Granderson, forme head of the United Nations mission put it
best when he said: "the security provided by the US is psychological it is a form
of reassurance" (Klarreich, 2000).
The second challenge identified by the secretary-general is the urgent
need to match improvements in security and democratization with advances in
economic development (Rohter, 1997). The Haitian economy, which shrank 30%
from 1991 to 1994, is growing at a rate of 4.5% a year, and between 1994 and 1995

the inflation rate dropped from 50% to 25% (Pierce, 1996). However, the unem-
ployment rate in Haiti is still roughly 70 to 80 per cent (Gates, 1997). Per capital
income is a meagre $250.00 and no one seems to have a plan to bring an end to
Haiti's grinding poverty, (Norton, 1999). Deforestation and natural disasters have
hurt agriculture, and the country has virtually no manufacturing to speak of. For
most Haitians, their only money comes from reselling items brought at a market or
street vendor (Newell, 2000). Crushing poverty makes Haiti the poorest country in
the Western Hemisphere.
Since the 1994 intervention, total international aid has been more than $2
billion. It finances the bulk of Haiti's national budget. However, much of it is in the
form of loans, or is used to hire foreign development workers, meaning that the
money returns to the donor nations (Norton, 1999). Little foreign investment has
actually taken place. U.S. Ambassador Timothy Carney summed up the situation
with bleak frankness: "We've gotten only modest results for all that money and
effort. Expectations were grossly out of line with Haitian realities" (Norton, 1999).
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) of Vermont expressed similar sentiments when he said, "the
poorest country in the hemisphere remains a place where the government is barely
functioning, political reform has gotten nowhere, the judicial system is in disarray,
the police are politicized, the average person lives from hand to mouth and
democracy exists only in theory" (Klarreich, 2000). In this author's mind, the
biggest and perhaps most important challenge that remains for Haitians is that of
building a nation from the ruins of a state that for decades did nothing but prey upon
its citizens in every way imaginable. This effort will require that Haitians find
solutions to a number of problems that affect Haiti not only economically but,
socially and politically as well. For example, half of Haiti's 8 million people are
illiterate; 45 per cent of school-age children have never been to school; malnutrition
affects 35 per cent of rural children under 5 years old; and infant mortality in rural
areas is 14.4 per cent, to name a few. Politically, Haitians have to begin to
overcome the deep and severe polarization and mistrust that is the result of
decades of misrule and abuse of power. This mistrust has contributed to the
apathetic attitude that many Haitians harbour about the prospects of electoral
politics as an effective vehicle for positive change. Case in point, when asked
about the upcoming 2000 elections, Yves Rose Jule commented, "I voted in 1990
and again in 1995" "I'm going to register, but I'm not going to vote this time
because nothing ever comes of elections" (Klarreich, 2000). Despite the feelings
of Jule there seems to be a growing faith in politics as 3 million of Haiti's 8 million
people have registered to vote for the 2000 elections (Klarreich, 2000).
These significant challenges notwithstanding, Haiti's citizens and legiti-
mate leaders with international assistance have made strides, albeit very small,
toward achieving the dream of democracy harboured by most Haitians since the
February 1986 fall of the Duvalier dictatorship (Taft, 1996).

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