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From the perspective of the researcher, Jamaica's background of oppression, war, slavery and deportation counterbalanced against its current day rich culture, music and cuisine represents a multitude of opportunities for production of a dissertation or doctoral thesis. We use ProQuest Dissertations and Theses to take a look at some of the 10,000 studies available on record that make mention to Jamaica.
It was Christopher Columbus who led the Spanish in the first colonization of Jamaica in 1494, but by the mid-17th century, attracted by the money to be made from the sugar trade, the British had taken over control. Tens of thousands of slaves were shipped in from Africa under appalling conditions by the British.
As the Spanish were vanquished and fled, they freed the slaves they had brought with them from Africa; these slaves escaped into the Jamaican interior and mixed with the indigenous tribes (the Taino) and the subsequent population that emerged was the Jamaican Maroons.
ProQuest databases house nearly 12,000 articles about the Jamaican Maroons, and some 700 of those documents are academic dissertations or doctoral theses, making it a truly rich source of primary research material.
As Brown (2002) reports in his dissertation, harsh restrictions were even imposed of slaves' religious rights – baptisms restricted to early mornings so they did not interfere with the day's work and funerals held only during the day for fear of the celebrations that took place, which were seen as 'heathen practices'.
There are a great many 18th century images available within the ProQuest suite of products, such as those shown here. Including such images together with the correct citation can really add weight and hue to research materials, especially where the compilation of a dissertation is concerned.
Slaves that refused work for any reason faced a sorry fate, as this image here shows of a slave worker who was unable to work as he felt too ill, "D*** your black eyes, what you can't work because you’re not well! But I'll give you a warm bath to cure your ague OK, a curry-combing afterwards to put spirit into you".
For over 70 years, the British warred against but failed to conquer the Maroons who used guerrilla tactics to defend and attack. Over time, the Maroons took control of much of the Island's interior to the extent that different factions of Maroons developed: the Windward Maroons and the Leeward Maroons.
The Maroons were far from disorganized, using spies to organize and target counter-attacks, and using the landscape to their advantage to out-maneuver and surprise the British even when heavily outnumbered. Maroon raids on the British at night were designed to cause maximum disruption by burning cane crops and killing slaves that were loyal to their British masters.
Attitudes towards slavery feature in a great many of the dissertations available in ProQuest's Dissertation and Theses product, one by Czechowski (2009), points to the fact that it was the frank writing and reporting that took place at the time that was instrumental in the ultimate emancipation from tyranny.
Finally in 1739, the British gave in and signed a treaty giving the Maroons their independence from British rule and their own portion of the Island on which they had no taxes to pay, in return for which they agreed not to harbor any more slaves.
The stalemate was not to last though, and some 50 years later war broke out again. This time, the British imported over 100 bloodhounds to hunt down the Maroons; swathes of Maroons were deported to Nova Scotia in Canada and from there they were moved to Sierra Leone in West Africa, as was reported in the press of the time:
Researchers with a specific interest in the history of the slave trade will also find (1830-1865) of great interest and value. Click here to learn more.
One interesting Botanical study undertaken by a graduate from Hawaii, looked closely at the way in which medicine on the Island became influenced by the African medical knowledge, practices, and even plants.
You can find out more by reading Ragosta's 2011 study on ethnomedicine.
The Jamaican's connections with Africa are still very much kept alive through the Rastafarian movement, who wear their hair in dreadlocks in defiance against stereotypical western ideals, pledge allegiance to the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, and sport the bright colors of the Ethiopian flag.
There is a host of other information available in ProQuest Dissertation and Theses about the Rastafarian movement within the African Diaspora and its influences on literature, music, food, medicine, and culture. Why not take a free trial and see what you can find?
There is guaranteed to be something of interest for everyone using ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (PQDT), no matter how obscure your interests.
Here are a few Jamaican topics to research – why not take a free trial today and see what you can find...
With so many dissertations and theses to review, what could you find out about Jamaica?
In 1938, Eugene Power realised that no permanent repository existed for literary material and that should a disaster strike (war, fire etc.) whole chunks of educational achievements could become lost. He founded UMI (University Microfilms International) and set about recording material onto microfilm – literature at first, but then dissertations. Now 75 years on it is compulsory in many universities that primary research studies should be recorded; of course, this is all done digitally these days, bringing the added advantage that each work can be checked for plagiarism.
ProQuest Dissertations and Theses is the world's most comprehensive collection of dissertations and theses, the official digital dissertations archive for the Library of Congress and the database of record for graduate research. It houses nearly 3 million searchable citations to full-text dissertations and theses from around the world from 1861 to the present day in downloadable PDF format. The database offers full text for most of the dissertations added since 1997 and strong retrospective full-text coverage for older graduate works.
More than 80,000 new full-text dissertations and theses are added to the database annually.