Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

Jamaica was a slave colony for 300 years—first Spanish then British—producing mainly sugarcane. With emancipation in 1838, former slaves turned to farming. Jamaica received its independence in 1962, becoming a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy as part of the British Commonwealth. English is the official language and Jamaican Creole, commonly spoken. Tourism, remittances from Jamaicans living abroad, bauxite mining and alumina processing are the mainstays of the economy. Also, Jamaica is the major Caribbean grower and exporter of marijuana.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Middle America and the Caribbean --Caribbean



OWC Code


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication, and title where necessary.

Martha Warren Beckwith (1929) wrote an early ethnography based on her fieldwork in the 1920s, covering the topics of geography, history, economy and religion. Madeline Kerr (1952) wrote a culture and personality study based on her fieldwork in the late 1940s. The rest of the documents are studies that date from the 1950s and 1960s. Two studies examine household structure, economy and marriage patterns (Clarke 1957; Smith 1962). One covers religious sects (Hogg 1967). Several studies examine farming systems and productivity (Blaut et al. 1973; Edwards 1961; Eyre 1972). Others examine labor conditions (Davison 1973), political parties and elections (Stone 1973), family fertility (Blake 1961; Sinclair 1974), and matrifocal family and gender relations (Pollock 1972).

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

Ian Skoggard

Concubinage, purposive – see "Trial marriage"

Duppy – pl. duppies – mischievous spirit

Higgler – see higgling

Higgling – itinerant vending – use "RETAIL MARKETING (443)"

Housekeeper arrangement – see "Housekeeper union"

Housekeeper union – recognized cohabitation; a form of common-law marriage – use "SPECIAL UNIONS AND MARRIAGES (588)"

Maroons – runaway slaves and their descendants

Marriage officer – use "ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES (647)"

Myal – practitioner of Myalism; shaman; herbalist – use "SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS (756)"

Myalism – shamanic system of religious belief – see "Myal"

Obeah – spiritual practices of West African origin, practitioner thereof ("Obeah man", "Obeah woman") – use "SORCERY (754)"

Pocomania – religion with African and revivalist elements – use "CONGREGATIONS (794)"

Pukkumerian – see Pocomania

Purposive concubinage – see "Trial marriage"

Revivalist sects or bands – also see Pocomania – use "CONGREGATIONS (794)"

Shepherd – high functionary of the Pocomania or Pukkumina cult – use "PROPHETS AND ASCETICS (792)"

Trial marriage – use "SPECIAL UNIONS AND MARRIAGES (588)"

Indexing Notes by

Martin J. Malone

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