Past research suggests that although political violence in mature democracies is rare, it does occasionally occur along ethnic, religious, and/or linguistic lines. Jamaica is an exceptional case in that it is a relatively mature democracy that experiences political violence between demographically similar groups. This article examines the origins of political violence in Jamaica—that is, the conditions that led to its development, intensification, and institutionalization during the late colonial period. Through original archival research, this article supports past findings identifying personality politics, the politicization of race/class divisions, and clientelism as contributing factors to the development of political violence. The research also, however, makes a major new contribution by providing evidence that colonial nonintervention during the early stages of political violence was a crucial factor leading to its escalation and then institutionalization. This finding gives the British colonial state a different and more central role than the extant literature suggests and has broader implications for all democracies.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 185-218
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.