Apart from problems of taxonomy, a rigorously subjective approach to the subject brings on its own peculiar problems. Because the cultural conflict within Jamaica is by no means settled, I cannot pretend to be a neutral force within the territory I am reconnoitring. Everyhere I go I am made to feel an active ingredient in a unclarified but obviously significant process.
Every photograph I have taken in Jamaica has not been like picking up a pebble from a dry river bed. Each one has been a gift, frequently from an initially reluctant and suspicious owner of the image. Anyone who has photographed in Jamaica, will know what I mean. In fact the tourist guides warn of the danger in stealing images. The photographer must make sure he is seen taking pictures. If there is an objection to his intention it quickly becomes manifest in the appropriate gestures and noises. It then becomes necessary to bargain for the image. Failing to do so can result in anger. Therefore every image I present here, including the ones without a visual representation, are images which have been bargained for, rarely with money, but always with reassurance. I hope I have not done the people who gve me their images an injustice.
Being such a politically charged observer -not of my own choice mind you- it is necessary to view my position within the material. Without doing so, my interpretation of Jamaican architecture would become facile. Therefore, before I start on my odyssey through the background of daily life in Jamaica I have chosen to position myself within the material, position myself with regard to Jamaica. That will establish legitimacy in writing this essay. Or fail to. That is not self-indulgent nor is it superfluous to the project here. Social and concommittant economic tensions carry deep causes and their effects are felt throughout the liturgy of daily life here. My interpretation of Jamaican architecture is nothing less than an attempt to understand the motives, machinations and consequences of conflict in a society where the colour of my skin is -forgive the metaphor- a bone of contention.