Community Formation: A Study of the "Village" in Postemancipation Jamaica

Community Formation: A Study of the "Village" in Postemancipation Jamaica

Community Formation: A Study of the "Village" in Postemancipation Jamaica

Community Formation: A Study of the "Village" in Postemancipation Jamaica


Can community formation be used as a paradigm for "national purpose and discipline in the Jamaica of today"? Reid clearly states in his Introduction that it can, and he shows how the 'free villages' of post-emancipation Jamaica serve as models and historical examples for Jamaica at the close of the twentieth century. The villages exemplified community spirit, industry, discipline and social, political and economic cooperation.

This is the first full-scale study of the settlement of 'free villages' in Jamaica after Emancipation, and of community patterns and community life during this important formative period in Jamaica that saw the crumbling of slave society, the collapse of an economy based on sugar and the emergence of a "new system of relations".


Any serious researcher conducting meaningful research must ask and answer the question, "What is the significance and the relevance of this project?" Further, if researchers for information and knowledge are to succeed, they must be apart as lonesome adventurers and pilgrims, and then emerge from their journey with a singular conviction, interest and purpose. It is with this approach that this study examines 'community' and the 'village' in postemancipation Jamaica. Researchers have a hallowed responsibility to themselves and to the world to answer the question posed above. the following is not necessarily in order of significance :

A historical exemplar

Community formation, it is intended, could be used as an exemplar of hope, effort and success in the Jamaica of today. the anthropologist Geertz [1973] speaks of 'ethos', meaning the moral and value components of culture and of 'world view', meaning a people's picture of their world, their way of life and their social relations. Is there a way by which community formation could be used as one example and as a paradigm or a model for national purpose and discipline in the Jamaica of today? the writer thinks so and is prepared to promote the historical significance of the 'free villages'.

Whither goest thou?

The question for the ex-slave was "What next and where to?" Emancipation as an act and freedom as a status created the decision for new directions. the undesirable foundation and structure of a slave society had crumbled, bequeathing what we could term the postemancipation dilemma. the shaking of the foundations, as it were, provided the advantage of necessity for a new citizenry. If emancipation was the decisive event, then the formation of community and village life was the . . .

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