The Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Research (SALISES) at UWI Mona launched last week its flagship research project entitled ‘Fifty-Fifty: Surveying the Past to inform the Future'. SALISES Director, Professor Brian Meeks noted that August 2012 , the month of both Jamaica's and Trinidad and Tobago's fiftieth anniversary as nations also signals the start of independence for the entire Commonwealth Caribbean.
SALISES Mona is taking this opportunity to initiate a series of cross-disciplinary research projects and seminars at the University of the West Indies which will take place over the next two years culminating in a super conference in 2012 to mark these anniversaries. It is anticipated that the conference will draw together the most incisive and fruitful of the research and discussion undertaken in order to provide as comprehensive an analysis and appraisal of the first fifty years of independence as is possible from within the Academy. The goal therefore is to harness the lessons of the last fifty years to steer us in the right direction for the next fifty. Hence the slogan—Fifty-Fifty.
The aim of Fifty-Fifty is thus twofold. The first is to critically explore and assess the meaning of independence, its successes, failures and contradictions, as it has unfolded over the past fifty years. The second is to propose concrete policy measures for the future direction of the Commonwealth Caribbean, based on assessments made in the first part of the study. The future, from this perspective, should be seen as both short term policy – the next steps required to move forward from the present conjuncture – and mid-term vision – what, on the basis of these steps, the Caribbean might look like in the next fifty years.
Professor Meeks proposed a set of questions that might be posed during the research project, including: What new forms or mutations of contemporary constitutional arrangements might most appropriately work with the new notions of sovereignty, nation and identity that are emerging? What, if any are the economic options and approaches that might address successfully matters of greater social equality, environmental sustainability and energy scarcity? What new models of agricultural development might confront rural inequality and the requirement of food security? What are the new approaches to the environment that might simultaneously address its degradation and the development of the rural community and economy? What would a new tourism more responsive to the environment, the local economy and community well-being look like? What are the new and innovative approaches to security and crime that would recognize the link between social and community well being and crime and implement new approaches alongside the traditional forensic and security measures? What are the genuine possibilities for a deeper and wider regional integration to frontally address the difficult challenges of the contemporary global order? What is the role of the Caribbean Diaspora in a reconfigured international political economy?
Fifty-Fifty will not only involve the participation of researchers across disciplinary boundaries, it will also include graduate students integrally in both the formulation and execution of research agendas. Finally, the findings and recommendations of this innovative research agenda will be widely disseminated using a variety of media, both new and traditional. A documentary film is planned and blogs, Facebook and Twitter are other communication platforms that will be exploited in this multimedia academic venture.
Released: Monday, February 15
Contact Person: Mrs. Arlene Supersad