Wednesday, March 30, 2011

12th Annual SALISES conference: Letter from the Director

Challenges of the Independence Experience in
Small Developing Countries

Dear participants in the 12th Annual SALISES conference ‘Challenges of the Independence Experience in Small Developing Countries’, I want to say on behalf of the entire faculty and staff that it was a pleasure being your hosts at this the first major conference in our Fifty-Fifty project.

As I indicated at the closing ceremony, we don’t see this as an average conference in which you leave and go home, but a recruiting event for Fifty-Fifty. The purpose of Fifty-Fifty is to critically review fifty years of the independence experience in the Anglophone Caribbean and to elaborate proposals for the region’s possible development in the next fifty years. We use the important fiftieth anniversary of Anglo-Caribbean independence as a useful hook, but the purpose is always to move beyond narrow linguistic barriers to look at the region as a whole. Thus, in our recently concluded conference, we had a special plenary on Haiti and there were participants from all the linguistic areas of our Caribbean. We are also intimately concerned with the historical experience and prospects for the non-independent territories that together constitute a significant part of the population and land area of the region.

In terms of the next steps, I elaborate some of the points made at the closing of the conference.

  1. The Fifty-fifty Conference is scheduled to be held in Kingston from August 20-25, 2012. We have not yet fine-tuned whether it will be all of those days, but it would be wise if you are thinking of coming to block them all off now.
  2. We are approaching this event somewhat differently than the typical conference with a call for papers, by establishing clusters far in advance of the event that would focus research around a set of clearly defined areas. The aim would be for the clusters to meet, identify research questions and establish an agenda that might include, seminars, talks, panel discussions between now and 2012, but would culminate with a panel/plenary/workshop at the 2012 conference.
  3. Some sixteen clusters (see list below) have already been established at SALISES Mona; however, a cluster need not be chaired by someone from Mona, nor necessarily from someone from SALISES. Indeed, we encourage the broadest participation of scholars and practitioners in establishing research clusters across the region. All that we ask is that you stick to the thematic lens of Fifty-Fifty, give us information on who is the chair/convenor and who are the members of the cluster, keep us informed as to the progress on your research and come to the conference with a developed panel. We are also open to individual paper proposals, particularly, though not exclusively from scholars outside of the region, who might find it difficult to assemble a cluster.
  4. Clusters might focus on a single territory, a comparative study involving two or more territories, or may be Caribbean-wide in scope. We are open to different lenses.
  5. Please get in touch with us if you have an idea for a cluster or if you wish to join an existing cluster. We would be happy to include you in this exciting project. Write to Arlene Supersad, the overall administrator or or go to our website for further information. Our website is not quite where we want it to be, but we are working on it and also on our Facebook page!
  6. We are still in the process of raising funds for Fifty-fifty. We are therefore asking you to try to be as self-sustaining as possible. To the extent that we are able to secure a major grant, then we will let you know and see how best we can facilitate research and the necessary movement associated with the project.

Existing Clusters and Chairs

  1. Economy: Michael Witter
  2. Governance and Politics: Trevor Munroe
  3. Social Policy: Aldrie Henry-Lee
  4. Health: Helen (Kristin) Fox.
  5. Housing: Jimmy Tindigarukayo
  6. Public Sector: Philip Osei
  7. Education; Maxine Henry-Wilson.
  8. Sustainable Agriculture: Pat Northover.
  9. Caribbean Integration: Patsy Lewis.
  10. Grenada Case Study: Patsy Lewis.
  11. Information Systems: Evan Duggan.
  12. Labour and Employment: Noel Cowell.
  13. Visualizing Independence: Annie Paul.
  14. Law and Justice: Celia Blake.
  15. Gender: Taitu Heron and Judith Wedderburn.
  16. Caribbean Language Policy: Hubert Devonish.

Proposed clusters

  1. Immigration: Jay Mandle.
  2. Growth and Development in the Caribbean: Patrick Watson.
  3. Climate Change in the Caribbean: Patrick Watson

There is also a media plan for Fifty-Fifty that film-maker Esther Figueroa has elaborated for interviewing and archiving critical individuals in politics, academics, the arts etc as well as the production of a film and a number of web-ready audio-visual products out of the deliberations leading up to the conference and the big event itself.

We look forward to hearing from you and to your involvement in this important and literally, once in a lifetime opportunity to critically engage with our situation and make concrete proposals for the future.


Brian Meeks
Director, SALISES, Mona.