+44 (0)20 7919 7800
Department of Anthropology
Goldsmiths, University of London
I have carried out research in Jamaica and the Eastern Caribbean, publishing on cultural history, land, law, development, kinship, gender, narratives, religion, migration and ethnicity. My publications include Martha Brae’s Two Histories: European Expansion and Caribbean Culture-Building in Jamaica (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 2002); Caribbean Narratives of Belonging: Fields of Relations, Sites of Identity, edited with Karen Fog Olwig (Oxford: Macmillan, 2005); and Caribbean Land and Development Revisited, edited with Janet Momsen (New York: Palgrave, 2007). I am currently working on comparative creolization in changing contexts of globalization among the descendants of plantation slaves, planters and rebel slaves in the Jamaican Cockpit Country for a book Transformations of Freedom in the Land of the Maroons (forthcoming, Kingston and Miami: Ian Randle Publishers). I have served on the Editorial Board of the Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies and as chair of the Society for Caribbean Studies in the UK, of which I am a founder member and (since 2010) an elected Honorary Life Member. I was a founding co-editor of the journal Progress in Development Studies (London: Arnold) and continue as a Life Member of the PIDs Advisory Board. I have been an advisor to the Scottish Executive on census issues of ethnicity (2007) and a member of the Academic Advisory Committee of the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum for the Exhibition “Breaking the Chains” (2007-2009) commemorating the bicentenary of the abolition of the British transatlantic slave trade. I am an Associate Fellow of the Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London, School of Advanced Study and of the Institute of the Americas, University College London.
Professor Jean Besson teaches the Ethnography of a Selected Region II (The Caribbean) / Social Anthropology of the Caribbean
Besson, J. and Momsen, J. (eds.)(2007). Caribbean land and development revisited. New York: Palgrave.
Besson, J. and Olwig, K. F. (eds.)(2005). Caribbean narratives of belonging: fields of relations, sites of identity. Oxford: Macmillan.
Besson, J. (2002) Martha Brae's two histories: European expansion and Caribbean culture-building in Jamaica. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press.
Besson, J. (2004). L’héritage de l’esclavage: La mémoire du sol en Jamaïque occidentale. Annales 59: 569-587.
Besson, J. (2004). Periodization or process? An anthropological view of history. Roundtable on C. Hall’s Civilising subjects. Journal of Victorian Culture 9: 244-250.
Besson, J. (2011). Missionaries, planters, and slaves in the age of abolition. In The Caribbean: A history of the region and its peoples (eds). S. Palmié and F. A. Scarano, 317-329. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
Besson, J. (2011). M. G. Smith’s plural society theory and the challenge of Caribbean creolization. In M. G. Smith: Social theory and anthropology in the Caribbean and beyond (ed.) B. Meeks, 22-42. Kingston and Miami: Ian Randle Publishers.
Besson, J. (2009). Myal, Revival and Rastafari in the making of western Jamaica: dialogues with Chevannes. In The African-Caribbean world view and the making of Caribbean society (ed.) H. Levy, 26-45. Kingston: University of the West Indies Press.
Besson, J. (2007). ‘Squatting’ as a strategy for land settlement and sustainable development. In Caribbean land and development revisited (eds.) J. Besson and J. Momsen, 135-146. New York: Palgrave.
Besson, J. (2005). Sacred sites, shifting histories: narratives of belonging, land and globalization in the Cockpit Country, Jamaica. In Caribbean narratives of belonging: fields of relations, sites of identity (eds.) J. Besson and K. F. Olwig, 17-43. Oxford: Macmillan.
Olwig, K. F. and J. Besson (2005). Introduction: Caribbean narratives of belonging. In Caribbean narratives of belonging: fields of relations, sites of identity (eds.) J. Besson and K. F. Olwig, 1-14. Oxford: Macmillan.
Besson, J. (2003). History, culture and land in the English-speaking Caribbean. In Proceedings of the conference on Land in the Caribbean: policy, administration and management in the English-speaking Caribbean (Trinidad & Tobago, 19-21 March 2003) (ed.) A. N. Williams, 31-60. Madison, USA: Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Besson, J. (2003). Gender and development in the Jamaican small-scale marketing system. In Resources, planning and environmental management in a changing Caribbean (eds.) D. Barker and D. McGregor, 11-35. Kingston: University of the West Indies Press.
Besson, J. (2003). Euro-Creole, Afro-Creole, Meso-Creole: creolization and ethnic identity in west-central Jamaica. In A pepper-pot of cultures: aspects of creolization in the Caribbean (eds.) G. Collier and U. Fleischmann, 169-188. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi.
Besson, J. (2002). Land, territory and identity in the deterritorialized, transnational Caribbean. In Land and territoriality (ed.) M. Saltman, 175-208. Oxford: Berg.
Besson, J. (2001). Empowering and engendering hidden histories in Caribbean peasant communities. In History and histories in the Caribbean (eds.) T. Bremer and U. Fleischmann, 69-113. Madrid: Iberoamericana and Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert.
Besson, J. (2000). The appropriation of lands of law by lands of myth in the Caribbean region. In Land, law and environment (eds.) A. Abramson & D. Theodossopoulos, 116-135. London: Pluto Press.
2012. Review of Cultural DNA: gender at the root of everyday life in rural Jamaica by D. J. Fox. New West Indian Guide/Nieuwe West-Indische Gids 86 (3 & 4): 381-384.
2010. Review of Down town ladies: informal commercial importers, a Haitian anthropologist, and self-making in Jamaica by G. A. Ulysse. New West Indian Guide/Nieuwe West-Indische Gids 84 (3 & 4): 54-57.
2009. Review of Jamaica in 1850 or, the effects of sixteen years of freedom on a slave colony by J. Bigelow. New West Indian Guide/Nieuwe West-Indische Gids 83 (1 & 2): 140-142.
2007. Review of Negotiating Caribbean freedom: peasants and the state in development by M. A. Crichlow. Contemporary Sociology 36 (4): 360-361.
2006. Review of The language of dress: resistance and accommodation in Jamaica, 1760-1890 by S. O. Buckridge. New West Indian Guide/Nieuwe West-Indische Gids 80 (3 & 4): 265-267.
2004. Review of Jamaica in slavery and freedom: history, heritage and culture by K. E. A. Monteith and G. Richards (eds.) New West Indian Guide/Nieuwe West-Indische Gids 78: 315-317.
2010. ‘Southampton arrival: the making of a Meso-Creole, a Caribbeanist and Caribbean Studies in the U.K.’. Keynote lecture to the 34th Annual Conference of the Society for Caribbean Studies, University of Southampton, July 2010.
2008. ‘The sacred and the secular in Caribbean creolization: land, kinship, gender and religion’. Keynote lecture to the International Conference on The sacred and the secular, School of Humanities, University of Southampton, September 2008.
2008. ‘M. G. Smith’s plural society theory and the challenge of Caribbean creolization’. Keynote lecture to the International Conference in honour of the late Professor M. G. Smith (O.M. Jamaica), M. G. Smith and the emergence of social anthropology and social theory in the Caribbean and beyond, University of the West Indies/University of California, Centre for Caribbean Thought, U.W.I., Kingston, Jamaica, June 2008.
2003. ‘History, culture and land in the English-speaking Caribbean’. Keynote lecture to the International Conference on Land policy, administration and management in the English-Speaking Caribbean, sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture, Land & Marine Resources, Trinidad and Tobago and organised by the Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.S.A., held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, March 2003.
2000. ‘Reflections on Caribbean Studies in the Year 2000’. Keynote lecture to the 23rd Annual Conference of the Society for Caribbean Studies, University of Birmingham, July 2000.
2013-2012. ‘Transformations of freedom in the land of the Maroons: creolization in the Cockpits, Jamaica’. Invited lecture to the Caribbean Research Seminar in the North, University of Newcastle, 10 May 2013 and to the Jamaican Historical Society, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, 11 December 2012.
2012. ‘ “Jamaica 50”: the role of peasantization in the development of a Caribbean nation-state’. Invited paper presented to the Graduate Seminar, Centre for Amerindian, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Department of Social Anthropology, University of St. Andrews, 11 April 2012.
2012. ‘ Maroons, free villagers and “squatters” in the development of Independent Jamaica’. Invited paper presented to the conference Fifty Years of Jamaican Independence: Developments and Impacts, Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London, School of Advanced Study, 10 February 2012.
Content last modified: 21 Aug 2013
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