This essay argues that the Jamaican 1970s is perhaps the most contested decade in Jamaican historiography. While there remains a contest over the positions and the stakes of narrating this period, there is consensus of the traumatic hold of the Jamaican 1970s that was at once violent, heady, exhilarating, and creative. There endures nonetheless an often-takenfor-grantedness that we narrate this decade through the singular framework of revolutionary time—a time that challenges the stagnation of the existing state of affairs and brings a new cultural-political order into being. As an alternative to revolutionary time, the author proposes interim time, which by contrast is marked by a self-conscious awareness of the unsustainability of a period’s momentum—a sense of the inevitable return to the status quo. Juxtaposing revolutionary time with interim time usefully frames the period to underscore that both temporalities were simultaneously at play—even among those who viewed themselves as sympathetic to transformations occurring in the then national culture.
Interim Time: Recasting the Revolutionary Jamaican 1970s
Donette Francis directs the American Studies Program at the University of Miami, where she is also an associate professor of English and a founding member of the Hemispheric Carib-bean Studies Collective. She is the author of Fictions of Feminine Citizenship: Sexuality and the Nation in Contemporary Caribbean Literature (2010), and is currently working on two book projects: “Illegibilities: Caribbean Cosmopolitanisms and the Problem of Form,” an intellectual history of the anglophone Caribbean’s transnational literary culture, 1940–70; and “Creole Miami: Black Arts in the Magic City,” a sociocultural history of black arts practice in Miami from 1980s to present.
Donette Francis; Interim Time: Recasting the Revolutionary Jamaican 1970s. Small Axe 1 March 2019; 23 (1 (58)): 52–61. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-7374442
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