Caribbean Political Economy

Constructing the Greater Caribbean (SALISES Keynote Address)

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Exploring the on-going project of constructing the Caribbean through the optic of the opposing forces of empire and resistance; and concluding with the idea of a Caribbean cultural community .

Click here for text of the address

Reinventing the CSME

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The CSME has been a failure because it is a borrowed model of integration known as Open Regionalism, which is an imperfectly designed instrument to boost the development of Caricom economies.


English versions of essays in El Caribe

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English versions of Essays in El Caribe: Dependencia, Integración y Soberanía by Norman Girvan (Santiago de Cuba: Casa del Caribe/Editorial Oriente, 2012)

  1. Reinterpreting the Caribbean at
  2. Caribbean Dependency Thought Revisited,
  3. Plantation Economy in the Age of Globalization.
  4. Caribbean Integration and ‘Global Europe’: Implications of the EPA for the CSME
  5. Is ALBA a New Model of Integration? Reflections on the CARICOM experience.
  6. CARICOM’s Elusive Quest for Economic Integration. :
  7. Existential Threats in the Caribbean: CLR James Memorial Lecture 2011
  8. Reflections on armed violence and development in the Caribbean.


Does Caribbean economic integration have a future? (Video), Norman Girvan

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Does Caribbean integration have a future? Whichever configuration of the Caribbean we talk about, an economically integrated region seems to be remote. The only areas of relatively successful regional integration are functional cooperation; intra-Caribbean migration, and cultural intercourse.

 Click here   for video of address and discussion


Aid Dependency and the ‘Begging Bowl’, Norman Girvan

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The EU decision to apply ‘Differentiation’ in its aid programme has caused consternation in the Caribbean. But could this be a blessing in disguise?




El Caribe: Dependencia presented at the Havana Book Fair

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My book in Spanish, El Caribe: dependencia, integración y soberanía was recently presented at the International Book Fair in Havana. Here is a report of the presentation and panel discussion and the comments of one reviewer, in English and in Spanish.

Report on Girvan book launch (English)

Review by Silvio Baró (English)

Informe (Español)

Comentario Silvio Baró (Español)

Colonialism and Neo-colonialism in the Caribbean: An Overview, Norman Girvan

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Prepared For IV International Seminar Africa, The Caribbean And Latin America, St. Vincent And The Grenadines, 24th- 26th November, 2012.

The contemporary Caribbean is one of the most politically fragmented regions for its size on earth; and one with the strongest remaining colonial presence… (but) slowly but surely, a pan-Caribbean consciousness is emerging, led by the vision of cultural practitioners; and containing the seeds of a future Caribbean nation….

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Caribbean integration: can cultural production succeed where politics and economics have failed? (Confessions of a Wayward Economist), Norman Girvan

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Presentation at a Colloquium on ‘The Caribbean That Unites Us’ in Santiago de Cuba, 5 July 2012. Revised version of St Martin Book Fair Presentation by the same name.

One of the beautiful things about events like this Festival del Caribe is the continual discovery that the things that unite us, as Caribbean people, are far more powerful than those that divide us. The barriers of language and political status virtually evaporate in the heat of music, dance and shared rituals…


Pan-Caribbean Perspective: Colonialism, Resistance and Reconfiguration, Norman Girvan

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This paper, presented at a Seminar in Brazil, presents a synoptic view of the history and contemporary situation of the Pan-Caribbean.

In its widest conception, the Caribbean has been said to stretch from the Northeast of Brazil through most of Middle America and the Antilles to the South of the United States..

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‘Smaddification’, Affirmation and Caribbeanity: The Caribbean That Unites Us, Norman Girvan

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Transcript of an interview conducted during the Havana Book Fair in February 2012.

(Extract) What unites us is a common frame of reference of our historical experience. But what also unites us, in a context of diversity, has been the affirmation of what my old friend and colleague Rex Nettleford called “smaddification”…All the labor that was brought here was brought here in a condition of exploitation of one way or another and the process of creating a Caribbean identity out of those conditions is a process of resistance, of struggle and of affirmation of self, of the dignity of the human person and of the right to autonomy of our societies…

Transcript of interview

El Caribe Que Nos Une (Versión en español)

Cari-Crisis–Again, Norman Girvan


“Crisis” is one of those words that is used so much that it has practically lost its meaning. And if there were a competition among regional organisations on which of them was most often said to be “in crisis”, my bet would be on Caricom winning by a wide margin…

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Imagine a leader leading Sir Ronald Sanders

Prime Minister Gonsalves’ Letter to Secretary General LaRocque Feb 2012

The “deficit crisis’ facing Caricom Nation Editorial

The Caribbean and Cuba: Cuba and the Caribbean–Reflection, Norman Girvan

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Remarks at a Panel Discussion at the Havana International Book Fair, February 11, 2012

Over the past 50 years or so there has been a noticeable growth of a ‘Caribbean consciousness’ within the Anglophone Caribbean, encompasseing key countries of the wider Caribbean; including Cuba…My question for my Cuban colleagues is this: how does this square with the Cuban ‘conception of self’? Does Cuba accept the notion of a ‘Caribbean family’ to which it belongs?…

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Haga clic aquí­ para,   , ¿Está el Caribe más lejos de Cuba de lo que Cuba está del Caribe? (Versión en español)

Cliquez ici pour la version franí§ais La Caraí¯be et Cuba : Cuba et la Caraí¯be Une réflexion

Customising Caribbean economic integration, Norman Girvan

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Presentation at the ECLAC Caribbean Development Round Table held in Port of Spain on September 13, 2011

Proposals now on the table suggest the evolution of a kind of hybrid model of economic integration; in which elements of ‘industrial policy’ (selective interventions by means of common policies, functional cooperation and investment) are combined with elements of orthodox ‘open regionalism’ (selective implementation of single economy elements). But if Caricom is to move in this direction, there are at least three hurdles are to be overcome…


Other presentations at the ECLAC Caribbean Development Round Table

Caribbean Diplomacy For A World in Flux, Norman Girvan

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Presentation At Training Workshop For Officials Of The Foreign Ministries Of CARICOM States Organised By The Institute Of International Relations, UWI, With Support From The Government of Australia, on August 22, 2011

The world of today is infinitely more complex and volatile than the world in which most CARICOM countries attained statehood. Accordingly, the challenges to diplomacy are infinitely more complex and fast changing. But have our thinking, institutions and diplomatic practice kept pace?


IMF says pace of expansion in the region begins to moderate CaricomNews Sept 24 2011

World Bank says region’s long-term growth requires more than current China links (sept 24 2011)

A Comment on the selection of Irwin LaRocque as CARICOM Secretary-General, Norman Girvan

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I welcome the selection of Irwin LaRocque to be the new Secretary-General of CARICOM. I know him to be a person of professionalism, integrity and proven commitment to regionalism. However, Mr LaRocque should not be given a basket to carry water. If CARICOM is to be re-energised and if the implementation deficit is to be addressed; Mr LaRocque will need to have the full support of the Heads of Government for reform of governance to provide legal teeth to the decisions of CARICOM organs and to establish an executive authority to oversee implementation.

Norman Girvan

27 July 2011

Existential Threats: Regionalising Governance, Democratising Politics (REVISED), Norman Girvan


In my C.L.R. James Memorial Lecture, I recall his arguments for Federation in 1958 and reason that they hold good for regional integration today. I argue that ‘insular independence’ has run its course; and that the regional option is both a survival imperative and the only means of realising the ‘national project’ as understood by those who dreamed and conceptualised it throughout our history.

Click here for CLR James Memorial Lecture REVISED

Independence dream an illusion–PM Golding Jamaica Gleaner

Disappointing results of CARICOM retreat CanaNews

Economic Insecurity in the Caribbean President, Caribbean Development Bank

Caricom in paralysis–single eonomy on ‘pause’ Rickey Singh

Learning From Our Forefathers, Norman Girvan

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Remarks at the closing of the CARICOM Civil Society Consultation, Port of Spain, February 11, 2011.

You have to organise, nationally and regionally, independently of the CARICOM Secretariat, independently of the EU, independently of the EPA; even as you utilise the opportunities that may be available from these bodies….Most of the significant institutional innovations in our historical experience have not been the result of external initiative or external support…

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CARICOM’s ‘Original Sin’, Norman Girvan

A shorter version of this was delivered at the Caricom Regional Civil Society Consultation, Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on 10 February 2011.

I want to suggest that we treat this gathering as political meeting–a meeting for political consensus-building, strategising, and networking among civil society organisations; on how best to impact regional and national political decision-making.In particular, may I suggest that our aim should be no less than to restore a sense of direction, and of vitality, to the regional integration moment…

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Related items

CARICOM: Its leadership that’s needed Sir Ronald Sanders

For a Caribbean Service Corps, Norman Girvan

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The controversy unleashed by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s statement on disaster relief for neighbouring Caribbean islands raises the larger question of appropriate modalities of assistance, and Caricom policy. This commentary proposes a Caribbean Service Corps,  to lend support to the rebuilding of the Haitian primary and secondary school system; and suggests that such a modality might be utilised for other,  similar events.

Read commentary,  ,  ,  ,  

Are Caribbean countries facing existential threats? Norman Girvan


The hurricanes of the last few weeks in the Caribbean have reinforced in my mind a growing sense that Caribbean states may be more and more facing a challenge of existential threats. (I prefer this idea to the discourse of ‘failed states’, which I find rather obnoxious and patronising; being associated with a political agenda of ‘humanitarian interventionism’ and the contemporary incarnation of the doctrine of imperial responsibility.) By existential threats I mean systemic challenges to the viability of our states as functioning socio-economic-ecological-political systems; due to the intersection of climatic, economic, social and political developments…

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Go to to read responses to “Existential Threats” (thread beginning November 1, 2010)

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