Orlando Patterson, John Cowles Professor of Sociology at Harvard University, presents the Matrix Distinguished Lecture, entitled “Slavery and Genocide: The US, Jamaica and the Historical Sociology of Evil.” Stephen Best serves as discussant.
Born in Jamaica, Orlando Patterson is a historical and cultural sociologist and public intellectual. Before joining the Harvard faculty, he held appointments at the University of the West Indies and the London School of Economics. His academic interests include the culture and practices of freedom, the comparative study of slavery and ethno-racial relations, and the cultural sociology of poverty and underdevelopment with special reference to the Caribbean and African American contexts. He has also written on the cultural sociology of sports.
Patterson is the author of Slavery and Social Death (1982), the first full-scale comparative study of the nature of slavery and a groundbreaking reconceptualization of the master-slave relationship. In an effort to understand slavery as an institution with universal attributes, Patterson analyzes the internal dynamics of slavery in 66 societies over time. He argues that slavery is a parasitic relationship between master and slave, entailing the violent domination of a natally alienated, or socially dead, person. The book won the Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award from the American Sociological Association and was co-winner of the Ralph J. Bunche Award from the American Political Science Association. Patterson's other books include Freedom in the Making of Western Culture (1991), winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction.
Patterson served as Special Advisor for Social Policy and Development to Prime Minister Michael Manley of Jamaica and was a founding member of Cultural Survival, one of the leading advocacy groups for the rights of indigenous peoples. He is the recipient of many career awards, including the Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award of the American Sociological Association, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Order of Distinction by the Government of Jamaica, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Stephen Best (English and Film & Media) is Marian E. Koshland Distinguished Professor in the Humanities and director of the Townsend Center. A scholar of American and African American literature and culture, he is the author of None Like Us: Blackness, Belonging, Aesthetic Life (Duke, 2018) and The Fugitive's Properties: Law and the Poetics of Possession (Chicago, 2004).
Cosponsored by the Social Science Matrix.