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Professor Jean Besson MA PhD

Staff details

PositionEmeritus Professor
Department Anthropology
Email j.besson (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone+44 (0)20 7919 7800
Professor Jean Besson MA PhD

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.

Teaching

Professor Jean Besson teaches:

  • Ethnography of a Selected Region II (The Caribbean)
  • Social Anthropology of the Caribbean

Publications

Book

Caribbean Land and Development Revisited
Besson, Jean and Momsen, J.. 2007. Caribbean Land and Development Revisited. Palgrave. ISBN 140397392X

Caribbean Narratives of Belonging: Fields of Relations, Sites of Identity
Besson, Jean and Olwig, K.. 2005. Caribbean Narratives of Belonging: Fields of Relations, Sites of Identity. Macmillan. ISBN 1405018798

Martha Brae's Two Histories: European Expansion and Caribbean Culture-Building in Jamaica
Besson, Jean. 2002. Martha Brae's Two Histories: European Expansion and Caribbean Culture-Building in Jamaica. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0807827347

Book Section

Missionaries, planters, and slaves in the age of abolition
Besson, Jean. 2011. Missionaries, planters, and slaves in the age of abolition. In: Stephan Palmie and Francisco A Scarano, eds. The Caribbean: A history of the region and its peoples. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, pp. 317-329. ISBN 9780226645087

M. G. Smith’s plural society theory and the challenge of Caribbean creolization
Besson, Jean. 2011. M. G. Smith’s plural society theory and the challenge of Caribbean creolization. In: B Meeks, ed. M. G. Smith: Social theory and anthropology in the Caribbean and beyond. Kingston and Miami: Ian Randle Publishers, pp. 22-42. ISBN 978-976-637-533-1

Myal, Revival and Rastafari in the making of western Jamaica: dialogues with Chevannes
Besson, Jean. 2009. Myal, Revival and Rastafari in the making of western Jamaica: dialogues with Chevannes. In: Horace Levy, ed. The African-Caribbean world view and the making of Caribbean society. Kingston: University of West Indies Press, pp. 26-45. ISBN 978-9766402105

Introduction
Besson, Jean. 2007. Introduction. In: Jean Besson and J. Momsen, eds. Caribbean land and development revisited. New York: Palgrave, pp. 1-14. ISBN 9780230261242

‘Squatting’ as a strategy for land settlement and sustainable development
Besson, Jean. 2007. ‘Squatting’ as a strategy for land settlement and sustainable development. In: Jean Besson and J. Momsen, eds. Caribbean land and development revisited. New York: Palgrave, pp. 135-146. ISBN 9780230261242

Sacred sites, shifting histories: narratives of belonging, land and globalization in the Cockpit Country, Jamaica
Besson, Jean. 2005. Sacred sites, shifting histories: narratives of belonging, land and globalization in the Cockpit Country, Jamaica. In: Jean Besson and K. Olwig, eds. Caribbean narratives of belonging: fields of relations, sites of identity. Oxford: Macmillan, pp. 17-43. ISBN 978-1405018791

Introduction: Caribbean narratives of belonging
Besson, Jean. 2005. Introduction: Caribbean narratives of belonging. In: Jean Besson and K. Olwig, eds. Caribbean narratives of belonging: fields of relations, sites of identity. Oxford: Macmillan, pp. 1-14. ISBN 978-1405018791

Gender and development in the Jamaican small-scale marketing system
Besson, Jean. 2003. Gender and development in the Jamaican small-scale marketing system. In: David Barker and Duncan McGregor, eds. Resources, planning and environmental management in a changing Caribbean. Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, pp. 11-35. ISBN 978-9766401344

History, culture and land in the English-speaking Caribbean
Besson, Jean. 2003. History, culture and land in the English-speaking Caribbean. In: A.N. Williams, ed. Proceedings of the conference on Land in the Caribbean: policy, administration and management in the English-speaking Caribbean. Madison USA: Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison., pp. 31-60.

Euro-Creole, Afro-Creole, Meso-Creole: creolization and ethnic identity in west-central Jamaica
Besson, Jean. 2003. Euro-Creole, Afro-Creole, Meso-Creole: creolization and ethnic identity in west-central Jamaica. In: Gordon Collier and Ulrich Fleischmann, eds. A Pepper-Pot of Cultures: Aspects of Creolization in the Caribbean. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, pp. 169-188. ISBN 978-9042009288

Empowering and engendering hidden histories in Caribbean peasant communities
Besson, Jean. 2003. Empowering and engendering hidden histories in Caribbean peasant communities. In: Thomas Bremer and Ulrich Fleischmann, eds. History and Histories in the Caribbean. 70 Madrid: Jam Educational, pp. 69-113. ISBN 978-0945179030

Land, Territory and Identity in the Deterritorialized, Transnational Caribbean
Besson, Jean. 2002. Land, Territory and Identity in the Deterritorialized, Transnational Caribbean. In: M. Saltman, ed. Land and Territoriality. Berg, pp. 175-208. ISBN 1859735649

Land, territory and identity in the deterritorialized, transnational Caribbean
Besson, Jean. 2002. Land, territory and identity in the deterritorialized, transnational Caribbean. In: Michael Saltman, ed. Land and Territoriality. Oxford: Berg Publishers, pp. 175-208. ISBN 9781859735695

The appropriation of lands of law by lands of myth in the Caribbean region
Besson, Jean. The appropriation of lands of law by lands of myth in the Caribbean region. In: Allen Abramson and Dimitrios Theodossopoulos, eds. Land, law and environment. London: Pluto Press, pp. 116-135. ISBN 9780745315751

Article

Review of Cultural DNA: gender at the root of everyday life in rural Jamaica by D. J. Fox
Besson, Jean. 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), pp. 381-384. ISSN 1382-2373

Review of Down town ladies: informal commercial importers, a Haitian anthropologist, and self-making in Jamaica by G. A. Ulysse
Besson, Jean. 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), pp. 315-318. ISSN 1382-2373

Review of Jamaica in 1850 or, the effects of sixteen years of freedom on a slave colony by J. Bigelow
Besson, Jean. 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), ISSN 1382-2373

Review of The language of dress: resistance and accommodation in Jamaica, 1760-1890 by S. O. Buckridge
Besson, Jean. 2008. 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), pp. 265-267. ISSN 1382-2373

Review of Negotiating Caribbean freedom: peasants and the state in development by M. A. Crichlow
Besson, Jean. 2007. Review of Negotiating Caribbean freedom: peasants and the state in development by M. A. Crichlow. Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews, 36(4), pp. 360-361. ISSN 0094-3061

L’héritage de l’esclavage: La mémoire du sol en Jamaïque occidentale
Besson, Jean. 2004. L’héritage de l’esclavage: La mémoire du sol en Jamaïque occidentale. Annales. Histoire, Sciences sociales, 59(3), pp. 569-587. ISSN 0395-2649

Periodization or Process? An Anthropological View of History
Besson, Jean. 2004. Periodization or Process? An Anthropological View of History. Journal of Victorian Culture, 9(2), pp. 244-250. ISSN 1355-5502

Review of Jamaica in slavery and freedom: history, heritage and culture by K. E. A. Monteith and G. Richards (eds.)
Besson, Jean. 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(3-4), pp. 315-317. ISSN 1382-2373

Conference or Workshop Item

‘Transformations of freedom in the land of the Maroons: creolization in the Cockpits, Jamaica’
Besson, Jean. 2012. '‘Transformations of freedom in the land of the Maroons: creolization in the Cockpits, Jamaica’'. In: Caribbean Research Seminar in the North. Caribbean Research Seminar in the North, University of Newcastle, United Kingdom 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..

“Jamaica 50”: the role of peasantization in the development of a Caribbean nation-state’
Besson, Jean. 2012. '“Jamaica 50”: the role of peasantization in the development of a Caribbean nation-state’'. In: Graduate Seminar, Centre for Amerindian, Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Department of Social Anthropology, University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom.

‘Maroons, free villagers and “squatters” in the development of Independent Jamaica’
Besson, Jean. 2012. '‘Maroons, free villagers and “squatters” in the development of Independent Jamaica’'. In: conference Fifty Years of Jamaican Independence: Developments and Impacts. Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London, School of Advanced Study, United Kingdom.

‘Southampton arrival: the making of a Meso-Creole, a Caribbeanist and Caribbean Studies in the U.K.’
Besson, Jean. 2010. '‘Southampton arrival: the making of a Meso-Creole, a Caribbeanist and Caribbean Studies in the U.K.’'. In: 34th Annual Conference of the Society for Caribbean Studies. University of Southampton, United Kingdom.

‘The sacred and the secular in Caribbean creolization: land, kinship, gender and religion’
Besson, Jean. 2008. '‘The sacred and the secular in Caribbean creolization: land, kinship, gender and religion’'. In: International Conference on The sacred and the secular. School of Humanities, University of Southampton, United Kingdom.

‘M. G. Smith’s plural society theory and the challenge of Caribbean creolization’
Besson, Jean. 2008. '‘M. G. Smith’s plural society theory and the challenge of Caribbean creolization’'. In: International Conference in honour of the late Professor M. G. Smith (O.M. Jamaica). University of the West Indies/University of California, Centre for Caribbean Thought, U.W.I., Kingston, Jamaica.

‘History, culture and land in the English-speaking Caribbean’
Besson, Jean. 2003. '‘History, culture and land in the English-speaking Caribbean’'. In: 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 Wiscons. Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

‘Reflections on Caribbean Studies in the Year 2000’
Besson, Jean. 2000. '‘Reflections on Caribbean Studies in the Year 2000’'. In: 23rd Annual Conference of the Society for Caribbean Studies. University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.