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New Left Review I/31, May-June 1965

H. Orlando Patterson

Outside History: Jamaica today

What is a Jamaican? Who is he? Has he a past? Is there any meaningful way in which he can define himself, culturally or personally, within the present? These are questions which every Jamaican must inevitably ask himself; not out of any fashionable intellectual curiosity, but out of sheer necessity. They are questions that are prompted by an awareness—existing on varying levels of intensity—that there is something in his experience hopelessly peripheral and hollow. It is perhaps for this reason that what impresses a Jamaican most on returning home after a few years abroad—as I did recently—is the marginality of his society. It immediately becomes clear to him that if ever a society is on the fringe it is his own.

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H. Orlando Patterson, ‘Outside History: Jamaica Today’, NLR I/31: £3

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