Just as the Roman Empire conquered the known world 2000 years ago, in the 19th century the British, through trade and slaves, created the largest empire that this planet has ever seen. Today, the United States may be a super power in decline but its economic power produced a colossal soft empire spanning the late 20th century. It put boots on the ground in hot spots around the globe, McDonalds restaurants in every city and the entire world has watched its movies.
However, the small island of Jamaica has forged a new type of empire, an intangible realm of which there are no physical monuments. There is no official political or economic sphere of Jamaican influence but when it comes to popular culture its global reach is immense, far exceeding the reasonable expectation for a nation of just over 2.7 million people.
For a nation that gained independence from the British only 50 years ago, Jamaicans have left their mark on music, sport, style and language around the globe and have become an international marker of cool. Jamaican music has colonised the new and old world alike, its athletes break world records with impunity and youngsters the world over are incorporating Jamaican slang into their dialects. Despite this the country has reaped no economic reward in return, unlike empires of old, and Jamaica still remains an economic pygmy. Jamaican influence has unconsciously spawned creative innovation around the globe and to this day it remains a country to be studied, celebrated, and demystified. Through the help of linguists, artists, musicians, and historians we take a closer look as to how Jamaican culture conquered the world.
The Film and Podcasts
How Jamaica Conquered the world will be a short film that is approximately 1 hour in length and documents the cultural influence of Jamaica around the globe post independence. The story will be told via voice over, interviews and video clips. The film will also be broken down into 30 x 10 minute audio podcasts that will be distributed over iTunes.
The project will be upbeat and positive about the island, its people and the diaspora. It will feature many people from around the world who feel that Jamaica is exceptional. The “How Jamaica” project has an official endorsement from the Jamaica50 Secretariat, the organisation that is co-ordinating events in and around Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence 2012.