Journal of Transnational American Studies
The Problem with Violence: Exceptionality and Sovereignty in the New World
- Author(s): Thomas, Deborah A.
- et al.
For many observers, the violent and often spectacular crime that takes place in particular Caribbean areas is evidence of a failure to create a growth-oriented economy and morally progressive ethos. It is a problem of culture, a mark of backwardness, an unsuccessful movement from savagery, or a failure to take advantage of post-World War II opportunities for development in political, economic, and socio-cultural fields. At the very least, it is something that marks the Caribbean—as well as some spaces within Latin America—as seeming to have taken a different path in relation to other New World trajectories. This article uses the case of Jamaica—itself often portrayed as exceptional within the region—to think through how, when, and why the US is, on one hand and from one perspective, written out of these narratives and, on the other and from alternative vantage points, central to them. In doing so, Thomas emphasizes the long-standing transnational dimension of violence in the postcolonial Americas, situating the New World as a single sphere of experience, in order to say something about the relationships among violence, the exploitation and settlement of the New World, sovereignty, and the various phases of modern capitalism.