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Edited by Rivke Jaffe

Caribbean cities are a unique yet underexposed phenomenon. Their distinctiveness results from a combination of interrelated factors including a history of slavery, development under the hemispheric hegemony of the United States and spatial limitations imposed by the settings of most Caribbean urban areas.
This innovative volume presents a detailed introduction to the spatial, socio-cultural and economic characteristics of the Caribbean city, followed by case studies of selected cities in the Dutch, Hispanophone, Francophone and Anglophone Caribbean. It discusses a broad range of disciplinary approaches in examining the urban Caribbean, incorporating perspectives from anthropology, sociology, history, political science, geography and literary and cultural criticism.
Open Access

Rivke Jaffe

Examines the disconnect between supralocal environmental discourse and policy and local understandings of environment and nature in urban areas of Jamaica and Curaçao. Through research among residents of ghettos or marginal neighbourhoods Riverton and Rae Town in Kingston, and Wishi/Marchena and Seru Fortuna in Willemstad, the author examines local environmental perceptions, placed also in a wider Caribbean context, and if and how these differ from "professional", or Western environmentalist discourse and themes. She notes that the respondents value wild, unpolluted nonurban places, but value natural resources for their instrumental above their intrinsic value, while they further object against garbage, waste, and pollution, but see them as connected to social problems. They further display coherent beliefs about the earth and human-environment relationships, influenced by religious views, combining misanthropy, anthropocentrism, and animism. Author then points out how these views diverge from "professional" versions of environmentalism of governmental or nongovernmental organizations. These can be attributed to differences in environmental worldviews, and to the fact that supralocal actors articulate environmental problems as separate, whereas the local residents consider these as interrelated with social and economic (urban) problems, including poverty, and marginalization. Author calls for incorporation of local-level environmental perceptions to make environmental policies more relevant and successful.

Open Access

New Roots

Jamaican Ontologies of Blackness from Africa to the Ghetto

Wayne Modest and Rivke Jaffe

This article explores contemporary ontologies of blackness in the Caribbean island of Jamaica. Approaching blackness as an ontological issue – an issue that pertains to the being, or the existence, of a category of people – we emphasize the spatial dimension of such ontologies. Drawing on Jamaican contemporary art and popular music, we propose that the site of blackness, as it is imagined in Jamaica, has shifted from Africa towards ‘the ghetto.’ Tracing changing Jamaican perspectives on race and nation, the article discusses how self-definitions of ‘being black’ and ‘being Jamaican’ involve the negotiation of historical consciousness and transnational connectivity. During much of the twentieth century, various Jamaican social and political movements looked primarily to the African continent as a referent for blackness. In the twenty-first century, the urban space of the ghetto has become more central in Jamaican social commentary and critique. By tracing the historical shifts of the spatial imaginary onto which racial belonging and authenticity are projected, we seek to foreground the mutability of the relation between blackness and Africanness.

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Series:

Kenneth Bilby and Rivke Jaffe

Guianese Maroon musical traditions, among the most African in the Americas, are now part of a rapidly globalizing world. Even as contemporary Maroons carry the traditional musics of their foreparents into the future, they participate increasingly in a wide array of urban and global mass-mediated musical trends. This article discusses several examples of how young Maroon popular musicians continue to balance the old and the new, creating and circulating new musical blends and joining global musical networks while remaining connected to ancestral forms and aesthetics. Even as they reach out to other parts of the African diaspora, they use new forms of music to redefine their social positions in their own countries. So far these young Maroon musicians appear to have had considerable success in using their creative output to resist the homogenizing pressures of globalization.

Open Access

Jay R. Mandle, Brian Meeks and Rivke Jaffe

In this feature we highlight a recently launched book. We invite specialists in the field to comment on the book, and we invite the author to respond to their comments.In this issue we focus on Brian Meeks's, Envisioning Caribbean Futures. Those invited to comment on the book are Jay Mandle and Rivke Jaffe.[First paragraph]In Envisioning Caribbean Futures: Jamaican Perspectives (2007), Brian Meeks writes “in sympathy with the new social movements that have evolved in the past decade which assert boldly that ‘another world is possible’” (p. 2). His effort is “to explore the horizons for different approaches to social living in Jamaica and the Caribbean in the twenty-first century” (p. 2). In this, he “seeks to move beyond a statement of general principles to propose specific alternatives” in order to “stimulate a conversation that looks beyond the horizon of policy confines, yet is not so far removed as to appear hopelessly utopian” (p. 3). My hope with this essay is to advance that conversation, in the first place by reviewing and assessing Meeks’s contribution and then by extending the discussion to the role that Jamaica’s diaspora (and by extension that of the region’s generally) might play in moving the country, as Meeks puts it, from its current “state of crime and murder, and the broad undermining of the rule of law that pervades the society” (p. 71).

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Anouk Fienieg, Robert Parthesius, Brittany Groot, Rivke Jaffe, Sjoerd van der Linde and Pauline van Roosmalen