This essay examines discourses of homosexuality in late colonial Jamaica through an analysis of the 1951 Police Enquiry, which leveraged accusations of homosexuality among Jamaica’s foreign police officers as a key component of its investigative work. With information from Jamaican state records, news media, literature, and social science studies, the essay argues that the inquiry mobilized divergent discourses of homosexuality across the Atlantic to enact an anticolonial nationalist form of sexual regulation. The inquiry drew not only from Jamaican figurations of homosexuality as the preserve of wealthy white foreign men but also from the Wolfenden Committee proceedings that led to the decriminalization of homosexuality in England and from the “Lavender Scare” that purged homosexuals from federal government employment in the United States. Despite its failing to reform Jamaica’s police force, the inquiry nevertheless foregrounds how sexual regulation operates through the interconnected workings of race, class, gender, and nation.
Antihomosexuality and Nationalist Critique in Late Colonial Jamaica: Revisiting the 1951 Police Enquiry
Matthew Chin is an assistant professor in the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at the University of Virginia. He received his PhD in anthropology and social work from the University of Michigan and is currently conducting a historical ethnography on the transnational politics of same-gender intimacy in late-twentieth-century Jamaica.
Matthew Chin; Antihomosexuality and Nationalist Critique in Late Colonial Jamaica: Revisiting the 1951 Police Enquiry. Small Axe 1 November 2020; 24 (3 (63)): 81–96. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-8749794
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