Tuesday 4 March 2014

The next meeting of the Colonial/Post-Colonial (POCO) group will be held in Room 205, 5 University Gardens at 17.00 on Tuesday 4th March 2014.

Paul Sutton will speak on ‘Nationalism in the Caribbean: Symbol and Substance in the Long-View’.


Paul Sutton is an academic and consultant specialising in the study of the Caribbean and of small states and territories. He recently retired as Senior Professor in Caribbean Studies at the Caribbean Studies Centre of London Metropolitan University. His most recent books are Modernising the State: Public Sector Reform in the Commonwealth Caribbean (published by Ian Randle in 2006) and (with Kate Quinn) Politics and Power in Haiti (Palgrave Macmillan 2013).


‘The current debate on independence in Scotland has a nationalist dimension and there are parallels with the debates on nationalism and independence in the Caribbean. While the experience and discussion of nationalism in the Caribbean stretches back to the nineteenth century in the cases of Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, Paul will focus on the more recent Post-World War Two experiences of the Commonwealth Caribbean (the former colonies of the United Kingdom which gained their independence from 1962 onward).  Paul has engaged with nationalism in the Commonwealth Caribbean for some 40 years beginning with PhD research in Trinidad and Tobago in 1972. He will reflect on this period to arrive at some judgements on what nationalism means for the countries of this region today (and in consequence hopefully generate some thoughts on what it means for Scotland today). The term ‘symbol’ is shorthand for the values the original national leaders (now called the ‘founding fathers’ in many cases) hoped to create within their countries following independence.  I will set these out in general and then look a little deeper at several of them, especially Trinidad and Tobago where I had the experience of working with Dr Eric Williams, the ‘founding father’ of the country, on a collection of his speeches and writings just before his death in 1981. The term ‘substance’ addresses the policies chosen to express nationalist values and the outcomes of those policies. Paul will look at these in general and then focus in on how these have changed over the course of 40 years leading to a re-engagement with, or negation of, the nationalist values originally espoused. Paul will finish with a few observations on what nationalism means in the Commonwealth Caribbean today, particularly for the remaining British overseas territories who have an option to proceed to independence should they wish to do so’.


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