Scammer's Yard: The Crime of Black Repair in Jamaica (Hardcover)

Scammer's Yard: The Crime of Black Repair in Jamaica By Jovan Scott Lewis Cover Image
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Tells the story of Jamaican “scammers” who use crime to gain autonomy, opportunity, and repair

There is romance in stealing from the rich to give to the poor, but how does that change when those perceived rich are elderly white North Americans and the poor are young Black Jamaicans? In this innovative ethnography, Jovan Scott Lewis tells the story of Omar, Junior, and Dwayne. Young and poor, they strive to make a living in Montego Bay, where call centers and tourism are the two main industries in the struggling economy. Their experience of grinding poverty and drastically limited opportunity leads them to conclude that scamming is the best means of gaining wealth and advancement. Otherwise, they are doomed to live in “sufferation”—an inescapable poverty that breeds misery, frustration, and vexation. 

In the Jamaican lottery scam run by these men, targets are told they have qualified for a large loan or award if they pay taxes or transfer fees. When the fees are paid, the award never arrives, netting the scammers tens of thousands of U.S. dollars. Through interviews, historical sources, song lyrics, and court testimonies, Lewis examines how these scammers justify their deceit, discovering an ethical narrative that reformulates ideas of crime and transgression and their relationship to race, justice, and debt. 

Scammer’s Yard describes how these young men, seeking to overcome inequality and achieve autonomy, come to view crime as a form of liberation. Their logic raises unsettling questions about a world economy that relegates postcolonial populations to deprivation even while expecting them to follow the rules of capitalism that exacerbate their dispossession. In this groundbreaking account, Lewis asks whether true reparation for the legacy of colonialism is to be found only through radical—even criminal—means.   

About the Author

Jovan Scott Lewis is assistant professor of geography and African American Studies at University of California, Berkeley.

Praise For…

"A page turner . . . the richness of the ethnography is as gratifying as Lewis’ deft blending of the empirical data and conceptual framework."—Antipode

"Timely and necessary."—Ethnic and Racial Studies 

" This impressive work deftly weaves together and advances important theoretical constructs, which deepen readers' understanding of this research."—CHOICE

Product Details
ISBN: 9781517909970
ISBN-10: 151790997X
Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press
Publication Date: October 27th, 2020
Pages: 216
Language: English