In Jamaica in the 1940s and 1950s, prominent women and women’s organizations led a notorious campaign to promote mass weddings. The campaign targeted working-class black Jamaicans living together in long-term heterosexual relationships and was aimed at improving the status of women and children and readying working-class Jamaicans for citizenship. This essay explores mass weddings as a form of women’s activism in the mid-twentieth century, and it reflects on M. G. Smith’s trenchant critique of mass weddings in his introduction to Edith Clarke’s iconic study My Mother Who Fathered Me. Smith identifies a governor’s wife as the instigator of the campaign, not the black Jamaican middle-class nationalist feminists who were responsible, yet his account has ascended to a form of academic folk knowledge that is oft repeated and rarely probed. As a valued resource for understanding late colonialism in the Caribbean, it has caricatured Caribbean feminist interventions in nationalist projects, and it contributes to the feminization of an enduring Caribbean “coloniality.”

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