Princess Margaret in Jamaica in 1962 - Independence
August 2012 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of independence in the Commonwealth Caribbean, as in the same month both Jamaica (August 6) and Trinidad and Tobago (August 31) gained their independence from Great Britain. Half a century is a short time in the history of a nation, yet it is sufficiently long to begin stock taking. How successful have the new nations been in improving the quality of life for their respective citizens? To what extent have they been able to forge a new and self-confident national culture? To what extent do the political systems - democratic in form – reflect principles of transparency and genuine accountability? How far have the economies moved away from traditional markers of dependency to become poles of dynamism and development? And for the next fifty years: what changes need to be made to the constitutional and more broadly political systems of government to deepen democracy and popular participation? What new economic models and approaches might be appropriate to confront the environmental and energy challenges that face the entire world, but especially small states? What combination of social, political and economic strategies might most effectively combat, reduce and ultimately eliminate the scourges of drugs, violence and criminality that threaten to engulf the region? What have we learned from the experience with regionalism over the past fifty years and what are the new approaches that might be taken to advance Caribbean integration? These and many other questions need to be asked and answered as we collectively seek to explore the meaning of independence and chart a way forward for the next fifty years.
Picture of 2008's Trinidad Independence Parade courtesy Cafe Moka
Fifty-Fifty is a research project designed and organized by the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) at UWI Mona. It will include a series of seminars based on sectoral and thematic studies around the central theme of reviewing the past fifty years of independence and looking forward to the next fifty. The Fifty-Fifty project will entertain proposals that focus on any single or combination of the territories of the Caribbean region, though special emphasis will be placed on the Jamaican experience. SALISES will also be harnessing its annual intra regional conference to be held at Mona in 2011 to address themes relevant to the project. Fifty-Fifty will conclude with a grand conference in 2012 that will bring together some of the most important scholars and panels for a comprehensive reflection on the meaning of independence alongside a concerted attempt to chart possible directions for the foreseeable future. Scholars, academics and interested persons in the widest spectrum of fields and interests are invited to participate in Fifty- Fifty, through proposed research projects or attendance at any of the seminars and/or the grand Fifty-Fifty conference in 2012.