A State of Violence: Jamaica's Anti-Queer Posture

Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


African American Studies


Dr. Gwendolyn D. Pough


Black, Human Rights, LGBT, Queer, Sanction, State

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


My project adds to a catalog of Black radical queer scholars who make the argument that the Jamaican state is no more than a heteronormative and patriarchal hegemon. I position Black Queer Thinkers to expose the Jamaican state and its detestable sense of morality. This puritan sense of morality, I argue, derives from the vestiges of a marred British colonial past. The remnant tools of heterosexist oppression are re-inscribed and re-enshrined under consecutive post-independent governments of Jamaica. These anti-queer paradigms are located in the cultural, economic, legislative, political, and social processes of everyday Jamaican society. These intersections among social and institutional identities further undermine the human rights and freedoms of Jamaica’s LGBT communities; rendering same-sex loving identities whereabouts unknown.

In this work, I examine questions of citizenship, gender, sexuality, nation, and power. My research and critical reflection over time reveal that these are contested sites, spaces in time that are always negotiated, never fixed, and never static. We traverse these ideas in the defining of boundaries, in the discovery of naming, identity and the self. In particular, when we examine issues of post-independence in Jamaica, we find that nationhood and respectability work in tandem to define notions of gender, sexuality, and power. From this, we come to understand where power resides and, in whose house, it thrives. In this paradox, Jamaica has invented a sense of self that is exclusionary, autocratic and anti-Jamaican. My work explores these questions to problematize who has the right to exist given Jamaica's national and historical anti-queer posture, one that reflects a heterosexist hegemony.


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