Orlando Patterson

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Orlando Patterson

Orlando Patterson (New America Foundation).jpg
Orlando Patterson speaks at the New America Foundation's "Inequality and the Great Recession" event
Horace Orlando Patterson

(1940-06-05) 5 June 1940 (age 81)
TitleJohn Cowles Chair in Sociology at Harvard University
Academic background
Doctoral advisorDavid Glass
Academic work
InstitutionsHarvard University
Doctoral studentsMabel Berezin
Main interests
Notable worksFreedom in the Making of Western Culture (1991)

Horace Orlando Patterson OM (born 5 June 1940) is a Jamaican historical and cultural sociologist known for his work regarding issues of race and slavery in the United States and Jamaica, as well as the sociology of development. He is the John Cowles professor of Sociology at Harvard University.[1] His book Freedom, Volume One, or Freedom in the Making of Western Culture (1991), won the U.S. National Book Award for Nonfiction.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Horace Orlando Patterson was born on 5 June 1940 in Westmoreland Parish, Jamaica,[3][4] to Almina Morris and Charles A. Patterson.[5] He grew up in Clarendon Parish in the small town of May Pen.[6] 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 PhD in sociology at the London School of Economics in 1965.[7] His dissertation adviser was David Glass.[8] He also wrote for the recently founded New Left Review, his first work being "The Essays of James Baldwin" in 1964.[9] While in London he was associated with the Caribbean Artists Movement, whose second meeting, in January 1967, was held at the Pattersons' North London flat.[10]


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 currently holds the John Cowles Chair in sociology at Harvard University.

In October 2015 he received the Gold Musgrave Medal in recognition of his contribution to literature.[11] In 2020 he was appointed a member of the Order of Merit, Jamaica's third-highest national honour.[12]

Professional associations[edit]


Selected bibliography[edit]

External video
video icon Booknotes interview with Patterson on Freedom in the Making of Western Culture, April 12, 1992, C-SPAN
video icon Presentation by Patterson on The Ordeal of Integration, November 2, 1997, C-SPAN


  • The Sociology of Slavery. 1967.
  • An Analysis of the Origins, Development and Structure of Negro Slave Society in Jamaica. 1968.
  • 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[2]
  • The Ordeal of Integration. 1997
  • 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.
  • The Confounding Island: Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament. 2019.


  • The Children of Sisyphus (novel). 1965.
  • An Absence of Ruins (novel). 1967.
  • Die the Long Day (novel). 1972.


  1. ^ "Orlando Patterson".
  2. ^ a b c "National Book Awards – 1991". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  3. ^ Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series. Vol. 84. Detroit: Gale. 2000. pp. 374–375. ISBN 978-0-7876-3094-2. ISSN 0275-7176. OCLC 43416285.
  4. ^ Getachew, Adom (21 September 2020). "Orlando Patterson and the Postcolonial Predicament". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  5. ^ Rosen, Isaac (1993). "Orlando Patterson 1940–". In Bigelow, Barbara Carlisle (ed.). Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale. pp. 191–194. ISBN 978-1-4144-3543-5. ISSN 1058-1316. OCLC 527366247.
  6. ^ Lambert, Craig (15 October 2014). "The Caribbean Zola". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved 26 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Author information at Peepal Tree Press.
  8. ^ Stoltz, Dustin (Fall 2018). "Four Questions for Orlando Patterson". Section Culture: Newsletter of the ASA Culture Section. 30 (3). Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  9. ^ Patterson, H. Orlando (July–August 1964). "The Essays of James Baldwin". New Left Review. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  10. ^ Walmsley, Anne (1992), The Caribbean Artists Movement, 1966-1972: A Literary and Cultural History, New Beacon Books, p. 51. ISBN 978-1873201060.
  11. ^ "Gold for Sly and Robbie", Jamaica Gleaner, 30 October 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  12. ^ a b Henry, Balford (7 August 2020). "Orlando Patterson heads list of national honours awardees for 2020". Jamaican Observer. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Orlando Patterson". AAPSS. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2020.

External links[edit]