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 82)
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] His parents were strong supporters of Jamaica’s People National Party, the political party he grew up to serve a few decades later. His father was a local detective while his mother became a seamstress. He had six half-siblings on his father's side but was his mother’s only child.[6] He grew up in Clarendon Parish in the small town of May Pen.[7] He attended primary school there, then moved to Kingston to attend Kingston College. While attending Kingston College, Patterson won a Jamaica Government Exhibition scholarship in 1958. Before matriculating in 1959, he taught for a year at the Excelsior High School in Jamaica.[6] He went on to earn a BSc in Economics with a concentration in Sociology from the University of the West Indies, Mona, in 1962.[8] He served as president of the Economics Society, president of the Literary Society and editor of the student magazine 'the Pelican'.[6] Patterson earned his PhD in sociology at the London School of Economics in 1965, where he wrote his PhD thesis, the Sociology of Slavery.[9][6] His dissertation adviser was David Glass.[10] He also wrote for the recently founded New Left Review, his first work being "The Essays of James Baldwin" in 1964.[11] 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.[12]


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 while serving as a tenured professor at Harvard University. Committed to working both jobs, Patterson split his time between Jamaica and the United States. He often flew to Jamaica the day after his last lecture.[6]

Patterson is best known for his work on the relationship between slavery and social death, which he has worked on extensively and written several books about. Other contributions include historical sociology and fictional writing with themes of post-colonialism. Patterson has also spent time analyzing social science's scholarship and ethical considerations.[13]

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.[14] In 2020 he was appointed a member of the Order of Merit, Jamaica's third-highest national honour.[15]

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.

Journal Articles[edit]

  • Rethinking Black History. 1971.[17]
  • Toward a Future That Has No Past: Reflections on the Fate of Blacks in the Americas. 1972.
  • Slavery: The underside of freedom. 1984.[18]
  • Ecumenical America: Global Culture and the American Cosmos. 1994.[19]
  • Culture and Continuity: Causal Structures in Socio-Cultural Persistence. 2004.[20]
  • Cross-National Cultural Diffusion: The Global Spread of Cricket. 2005.[21]
  • The Culture of Sports. 2014.[22]
  • Making Sense of Culture. 2014.[23]
  • Race, Gender and Liberal Fallacies. 2014.[24]
  • From one Out-In to another: What’s missing in Wacquant’s structural analysis. 2015.[25]
  • Freedom, Slavery, and Identity in Renaissance Florence: The Faces of Leon Battista Alberti. 2017.[26]
  • Modern Trafficking, Slavery, and Other Forms of Servitude. 2018.[27]
  • The denial of slavery in contemporary American sociology. 2019.[28]

Opinion Pieces[edit]

  • The Real Problem with America's Inner Cities. 2015.[29]
  • The Secret of Jamaica's Runners. 2016.[30]


  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. ^ a b c d e Scott, David (1 March 2013). "The Paradox of Freedom: An Interview with Orlando Patterson". Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism. 17 (1): 96–242. doi:10.1215/07990537-1665461. ISSN 0799-0537.
  7. ^ Lambert, Craig (15 October 2014). "The Caribbean Zola". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved 26 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Williams, Richard (1995). "Orlando patterson interview". Sociological Forum. 10 (4): 653–671. doi:10.1007/BF02095773. ISSN 0884-8971.
  9. ^ Author information at Peepal Tree Press.
  10. ^ Stoltz, Dustin (Fall 2018). "Four Questions for Orlando Patterson". Section Culture: Newsletter of the ASA Culture Section. 30 (3). Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  11. ^ Patterson, H. Orlando (July–August 1964). "The Essays of James Baldwin". New Left Review. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  12. ^ Walmsley, Anne (1992), The Caribbean Artists Movement, 1966-1972: A Literary and Cultural History, New Beacon Books, p. 51. ISBN 978-1873201060.
  13. ^ Greenland, Fiona; Steinmetz, George (2019). "Orlando Patterson, his work, and his legacy: a special issue in celebration of the republication of Slavery and Social Death". Theory and Society. 48 (6): 785–797. doi:10.1007/s11186-019-09371-3. ISSN 0304-2421.
  14. ^ "Gold for Sly and Robbie", Jamaica Gleaner, 30 October 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  15. ^ a b Henry, Balford (7 August 2020). "Orlando Patterson heads list of national honours awardees for 2020". Jamaican Observer. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  16. ^ "Orlando Patterson". AAPSS. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  17. ^ Patterson, Orlando (1 September 1971). "Rethinking Black History". Harvard Educational Review. 41 (3): 297–315. doi:10.17763/haer.41.3.78u1p14257x57814. ISSN 0017-8055.
  18. ^ Patterson, Orlando (1984). "Slavery: The underside of freedom∗". Slavery & Abolition. 5 (2): 87–104. doi:10.1080/01440398408574867. ISSN 0144-039X.
  19. ^ Patterson, Orlando (1994). ""Ecumenical America: Global Culture and the American Cosmos"". World Policy Journal.
  20. ^ Neal, Arthur G. (2005). "Matters of Culture: Cultural Sociology in Practice". The Journal of American Culture. 28 (2): 240–241. doi:10.1111/j.1542-734X.2005.166_12.x. ISSN 1542-7331.
  21. ^ Patterson, Orlando; Kaufman, J (2005). "Cross-National Cultural Diffusion: The Global Spread of Cricket". American Sociological Review.
  22. ^ Patterson, Orlando; Tomlinson, Alan; Young, Christopher (2011). "The Culture of Sports: The Culture of Sports". Journal of Historical Sociology. 24 (4): 549–563. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6443.2011.01418.x.
  23. ^ Patterson, Orlando (30 July 2014). "Making Sense of Culture". Annual Review of Sociology. 40 (1): 1–30. doi:10.1146/annurev-soc-071913-043123. ISSN 0360-0572.
  24. ^ Patterson, Orlando. "Race, Gender and Liberal Fallacies". The Black Scholar. 22 (1–2): 77–80. doi:10.1080/00064246.1992.11413015. ISSN 0006-4246.
  25. ^ Patterson, Orlando (2015). "From one Out-In to another: What's missing in Wacquant's structural analysis". Urban Studies. 53 (6): 1089–1094. doi:10.1177/0042098015614438. ISSN 0042-0980.
  26. ^ Patterson, Orlando (5 October 2017). Schmidtz, David; Pavel, Carmen E. (eds.). Freedom, Slavery, and Identity in Renaissance Florence. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199989423.013.8.
  27. ^ Patterson, Orlando; Zhuo, Xiaolin (30 July 2018). "Modern Trafficking, Slavery, and Other Forms of Servitude". Annual Review of Sociology. 44 (1): 407–439. doi:10.1146/annurev-soc-073117-041147. ISSN 0360-0572.
  28. ^ Patterson, Orlando (2019). "The denial of slavery in contemporary American sociology". Theory and Society. 48 (6): 903–914. doi:10.1007/s11186-019-09369-x. ISSN 0304-2421.
  29. ^ Patterson, Orlando (9 May 2015). "Opinion | The Real Problem With America's Inner Cities". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  30. ^ Patterson, Orlando (13 August 2016). "Opinion | The Secret of Jamaica's Runners". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 October 2022.

External links[edit]