State-Building in the Anglo-Caribbean Assessing Jamaica's State Formation and Development

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Nicole Warmington-Granston
Damion K. Blake


In 1962, Jamaica transitioned from being a British colony to a sovereign nation-state. After independence, the country experienced internal and external sociocultural, economic, and political changes that influenced state development. Internally, the political elite, grassroots community organizations, and local strongmen influenced its political stability. Jamaica’s polarized partisan political culture fostered perverse citizen participation alongside a shared “Jamaicanness” identity that helped to build social capital and civic mindedness. Externally, the Cold War sent ideological shock waves through the Americas, and in the 1960s and 1970s, Jamaica fell prey to its violent political consequences. The global shifts brought on by neoliberalism in the late 1970s into the 1980s also had destabilizing economic and political consequences for Jamaica. By the 1980s, with cocaine transshipment from South America through the Caribbean corridor into the United States, Jamaica’s local strongmen upgraded from being partisan middlemen working on behalf of the state to becoming violent drug barons. This metamorphosis had violent consequences for the Jamaican state and society. We explain how these endogenous and exogenous political, economic, and cultural factors contributed to the formation and evolution of the Jamaican

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Author Biographies

Nicole Warmington-Granston, Governors State University

Nicole Warmington-Granston, PhD, is assistant professor of political science and global studies at Governors State University. They can be contacted via email:

Damion K. Blake, Elon University

Damion K. Blake, PhD, is assistant professor of political science and policy studies at Elon University. They can be contacted via email: