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Orlando Patterson (born 5 June 1940) is a Jamaican-born American historical and cultural sociologist known for his work regarding issues of race in the United States, as well as the sociology of development. His book Freedom, Volume One, or Freedom in the Making of Western Culture (1991), won the U.S. National Book Award for Nonfiction.
Early life and education
Patterson was born in Westmoreland, Jamaica, and grew up in Clarendon Parish in the small town of May Pen. He attended primary school there, then moved to Kingston to attend Kingston College. He went on to earn a BSc in Economics from the University of the West Indies, Mona, in 1962, and his Ph.D. in Sociology at the London School of Economics in 1965.
Earlier in his career, Patterson was concerned with the economic and political development of his home country, Jamaica. He served as special advisor to Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica, from 1972 to 1979.
Patterson is known for his work on the relationship between slavery and Social death, which he has worked on extensively and written several books about.
Patterson has appeared on PBS and has been a guest columnist in The New York Times. A recent article in the latter, "The Real Problem With America’s Inner Cities," used the lens of developmental sociology to analyze recent protests and looting in West Baltimore.
Patterson currently holds the John Cowles chair in Sociology at Harvard University.
- Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- Ernest W. Burgess Fellow, American Academy of Political and Social Science
- Member, American Sociological Association
- Board of Directors, New York Civil Rights Coalition
- Walter Channing Cabot Faculty Prize, Harvard, 1997
- National Book Award, Non-Fiction, 1991
- Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship (formerly Sorokin Prize): American Sociological Association, 1983
- Ralph Bunche Award from Howard University for the Best Scholarly Work on Pluralism (co-winner): American
- Political Science Association, 1983
- Walter Channing Cabot Faculty Prize, Harvard, 1983/1997
- Best Novel in English (The Children of Sisyphus): Dakar Festival of Negro Arts, 1965
- The Children of Sisyphus (novel). 1965.
- An Absence of Ruins (novel). 1967.
- The Sociology of Slavery. 1967.
- An Analysis of the Origins, Development and Structure of Negro Slave Society in Jamaica. 1968.
- Die the Long Day (novel). 1972.
- Ethnic Chauvinism: The Reactionary Impulse. 1977.
- Slavery and Social Death. 1982.
- Freedom in the Making of Western Culture. 1991. Later renamed Freedom, Vol. 1: Freedom in the Making of Western Culture — winner of National Book Award
- Rituals of Blood: Consequences of Slavery in Two American Centuries. 1999.
- Freedom: Freedom in the Modern World. 2006.
- The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth (with Ethan Fosse). 2015.
- Patterson Biography at Harvard
- Patterson's Curriculum Vitae
- Video of debate/discussion with Patterson on Bloggingheads.tv
- Appearances on C-SPAN
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