University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
carved post

On May 24, 2010, at least 75 Jamaican civilians were killed when police and military forces entered the West Kingston community in an attempt to apprehend Christopher “Dudus” Coke, a gang leader and community leader. Survivors tell their stories in a multi-modal ethnography project designed to provide a platform for West Kingston community members to narrate their experience, and to name and memorialize lost loved ones.


When

During the week of May 24, 2010, members of the Jamaican Army and police force entered Tivoli Gardens and other West Kingston communities to apprehend Christopher “Dudus” Coke. The incursion lasted four days. Coke was detained on June 22nd and then extradited to the United States. His trial took place on August 30th, 2011 and he is currently serving a 23-year sentence. A report of the incursion was called for in 2014 though a full list of the dead has not yet been released.

The ethnography project was started in 2012.

Where

Tivoli Gardens is located in West Kingston, on the southern coast of Jamaica.

Researchers

  • Deborah A. Thomas, R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
  • Deanne M. Bell, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of East London
  • Junior “Gubu” Wedderburn, Percussionist, Producer and Music Director for Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens

Project Description

Portraits od people impacted

Portraits of people impacted by the 2010 incursion. Top row: Portraits of Sharon Warren, Nadine Sutherland, and Donald Reid. Bottom row: Portraits of Christopher Jones, Shawn Bowen, and Andrea Smikle. Portraits by Varun Baker.

In May of 2010, police and military forces entered West Kingston communities to apprehend Christopher “Dudus” Coke, who had been ordered for extradition to the United States to stand trial on gun and drug-trafficking charges. As the “don” of the community and therefore both benefactor and gang leader, Coke’s supporters protected him, leading to a standoff with the security forces. The incursion lasted four days and at least 75 Jamaican civilians were killed, though according to community members the number is closer to 200. By the end of the week, Coke had not yet been discovered and the government imposed a curfew for the residents of Tivoli Gardens, effectively stopping movement in and out of the community until Coke was discovered on June 22nd and subsequently extradited. Coke pled guilty to charges and in June 2012 he was sentenced to 23 years, which he is currently serving at Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution.

In 2012, Deborah Thomas, Deanne M. Bell, and Junior “Gubu” Wedderburn, began work on an ethnography of “making life in and through violence” as a way of bearing witness to these events. The multi-modal project provides a platform for people in Tivoli Gardens to narrate their experiences during this state of emergency and to publicly name and memorialize lost loved ones. Working with community members, Thomas, Bell, and Wedderburn recorded around 30 oral histories, collected drone footage and archival film and stills, and took photographs and video of interviewees and the community to create the experimental documentary Four Days in May: Kingston 2010, museum exhibition Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston, and a book by Thomas, Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Sovereignty, Witnessing, Repair. As affective engagements are unpredictable and different modalities produce different types of engagements, each piece of this project (film, exhibition, and book) speaks to gaps in others.

The exhibition Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston opened at the Penn Museum in November 2017 and will be accessible to the public until December 2019.

Sponsors

Penn Museum
Humanities Forum
Digital Humanities Forum
Vitale Digital Media Lab
Provost’s Interdisciplinary Arts Fellowship
School of Arts and Sciences
Annenberg School for Communication
Penn Design
Antioch Faculty Fund, Inc.

Related Projects and More Information

Tivoli Stories

Center for Experimental Ethnography

Bearing Witness: Four Day in West Kingston

Expedition Magazine: Bearing Witness


celebration in the gallery Opening of the exhibition, Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston, at the Penn Museum. Photo by Leniqueca Welcome.
visitors looking at gallery photos Visitors hear stories from those impacted by the 2010 incursion. Photo by Leniqueca Welcome.
still from movie people walking Dr. Deborah Thomas (center, in blue) walks with Dr. Deanne Bell (far right) and Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn (third from left in light gray shirt) and members of the Tivoli Gardens community. About 30 oral histories were recorded that documented events that took place over four days in 2010.

© Penn Museum 2019 Sitemap | Contact | Copyright | Disclaimer | Privacy |