Garrison Communities as Counter Societies: The Case of the 1998 Zeeks' Riot in Jamaica

IDEAZ, 2002 1(1)

8 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2013

Date Written: 2002


Garrison communities as counter societies are deconstructed by analysing the counter narratives of the Zeeks' riot from a resident of Western Kingston and a police officer. The two major political parties have used patron-clientelism to mobilize support. Scarce resources are only distributed to party supporters to maintain their loyalty and entice rival supporters to switch their allegiance. Distribution of houses is a case in point, which leads to community majority of loyal supporters that Balkanise against political challenges with the support of gunmen under the control of the don. As the Jamaican state started contracting in the 1980s because of liberalization there were less material incentives for partisan mobilization. However, the dons were increasing their wealth from illegal activities and eventually replaced the state as the providers for some inner city residents who became more loyal to the dons than their political party. Garrisons are counter societies with their own security structure, laws, justice and welfare systems. The dons, when they break the law, can utilize the security structure in the community and the loyalty of some residents to effectively challenge the state as was evident during the Zeeks' riot. This has set a bad precedence that inner city communities have increasingly been exploiting to their advantage.

Keywords: Garrison Communities, Counter Societies, Jamaica, Zeeks, Riot, Dons, Violence

Suggested Citation

Charles, Christopher, Garrison Communities as Counter Societies: The Case of the 1998 Zeeks' Riot in Jamaica (2002). IDEAZ, 2002 1(1). Available at SSRN:

Christopher Charles (Contact Author)

University of the West Indies ( email )

Kingston 7
Mona, Mona Kingston 7

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