Reggae music, beaches, Rastas, jerk chicken, Usain Bolt, Bob Marley? Do these iconic images appear in your mind when you think of Jamaica? Or do you think of the crime and the poverty? These questions all revolve around the concept of branding a nation and what it means to capitalize on popular perceptions of an entire country. A complex and rich intellectual pursuit to be sure.
On July 16 and 17, a conference will tackle the concept of nation branding. The Brand Jamaica Symposium is the creation of Jamaican scholar Dr. Hume Johnson. She has travelled the world and during these travels, became intrigued by the concept of nation branding, especially that of Jamaica. In fact, I participated in a component of her research, which involved a lively discussion with non-Jamaicans about their perception of the country.
As a Canadian who was born in Australia, lived in India, Jamaica, studied for several years in the United States and traveled extensively, I have also always been intrigued by the concept of nation branding. I think living in the shadow of the most powerful nation in the world provides an especially interesting perspective. (What would Canada’s brand be, anyway? We are used to the cold, we like hockey, we are always polite and not American? Just to throw out a few, slightly cynical thoughts…)
I will be a presenter at this conference, with my topic being the government’s management of the ChikV epidemic. If you are in Jamaica, please come and check it out and if not, a journal will be produced with some of the findings.