While globalization is often conceived of in terms of the transnational movement of capital, culture, people, and ideas, in his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings Marlon James draws attention to a less salubrious form of transnational flow that may also circulate through diasporic networks: that of violence in all of its different social registers, from means of social control to response to the traumas of past violence. This essay argues that while James’s text is concerned with unveiling the roots of Jamaica’s violence in late–Cold War US imperialism and the larger regional historical reproduction of structures of violence over time, as well as its relation to the patriarchal culture organizing Kingston’s gangs and the organization of its impoverished downtown communities, at the center of the novel is an attempt to give narrative form to how violence is a co-contributor to the formation of the Jamaican diaspora and a social force transmitted in mutable form across its geographic expanse. In other words, A Brief History of Seven Killings thematizes the reverberations across transnational Jamaican society of a violence born of neo-imperialism and perpetuated in a particularly masculinist manner, one that simultaneously serves to disperse and bind together the Jamaican diaspora.

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