Caribbean Political Economy

C.L.R. James on West Indian Federation, 1958

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Text of a lecture delivered by C.L.R. James on “Federation (West Indies and British Guiana)” at Queen’s College, Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana) in June 1958. It is posted here in view of the upcoming C.L.R. James Memorial Lecture.

I must begin by noting one or two criticisms that have been made not only about Federation but about my presence in British Guiana. It has been said that I, a stranger, have no right to come here to discuss with the people of British Guiana the question of Federation. I am not in the least offended by the remark. My welcome in many quarters has been very warm, even enthusiastic, and I think I detect in the critic’s remarks not so much an objection to my presence here, as a means of indicating in a disguised manner his opposition to Federation…

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Remembering C.L.R. James

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Norman Girvan
Seminar on “Remembering C.L.R James”
Department of Behavioural Sciences, UWI, St Augustine
May 8, 2000

Cyril Lionel Robert James—”Nello” to his close friends, “CLR” to the rest of us–was, arguably, one of the most outstanding personalities of the 20th Century. In a life which spanned nine of the Century’s decades, he embraced most of its great social movements with passion, eloquence, and brilliant insights. His impact extended far beyond his native Trinidad and Tobago to the entire Caribbean, Britain, the Soviet Union, the United States and Africa…


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.


Imperialism and Indian Indentureship, Chaman Lal

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Chaman Lal, who was,   visiting Professor at Hindi Chair at the UWI , St Augustine, is Professor & Former Chairperson at the Centre of Indian Languages, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. His article recounts the cruel history of Indian indentureship as a source of exploited labour post-Emanicpation and the long struggle to eliminate it and subsequent movements to forge African-Indian Unity, including,   the roles of Mahatma Gandhi, Cheddi Jagan, CLR James and Walter Rodney.

Read,  Imperialism and Indian Indentureship

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

Sir Frank Worrell 50th Anniversary, Naseer Khan

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“Cricket all-rounder, leader, educator, counsellor, senator, author, humanitarian, a man of class…the West Indies first black captain. The year 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of this significant milestone.”At the age of 36, belatedly in 1960, when he was finally anointed as the West Indies cricket captain, after much lobbying especially from CLR James, Barbadian born Frankie Worrell was already past his cricketing prime having risen to one of the world’s best and most loved cricketers….

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Franz Fanon: My Hope and Hero, Orlando Patterson

This essay first appeared in 1966 in the Guyana Independence Issue of New World Quarterly edited by George Lamming. It is republished here, by kind permission of the author, to mark the 50th anniversary of the passing of Frantz Fanon on December 5, 1961.

Fanon’s The Damned is one of those rare books which stands out not only through the brilliance of its penetrating social and psychological insights, or through the sheer vigour and originality of its style, but derives its greatest importance from the fact of being the key work which embodies the zeitgeist of a revolutionary social movement. ..


Related items

Special Issue of the Journal of Pan African Studies on Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon and C.L.R James on Intellectualism and Enlightened Rationality Nelson Maldonado Torres

Frantz Fanon and the Lumpenproletariat Peter Worsley

Relative Opacity–Mission Betrayed or Fulfilled? A comment on a new translation of The Wretched of the Earth Nigel Gibson

For a Caribbean Cultural Space, Graciela Chailloux

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Reflections on the publication of the first Spanish edition of C.L.R. James’s The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution by Casa de Las Americas, Havana, in February 2010.

The aspiration to construct the Caribbean as a common cultural space is of long vintage. Its realization has been frustrated not only by the separation imposed on us by the currents of the sea that is our home, but also by the different languages that divide us…

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Spanish Original – Versión original en español


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Recent and Relevant

Caribbean Integration: Can Cultural Production Succeed Where Economics and Politics have Failed? Norman Girvan 2012

Pan-Caribbean Perspective: Colonialism, Resistance and Reconfiguration Norman Girvan 2012

Towards a New Democracy and a New Independence, Tennyson Joseph 2012

Turning Around CARICOM, The Landell Mills Report 2012

Caribbean Diplomacy For A World in Flux, Norman Girvan 2011

Caribbean Regional Integration, Institute of International Relations 2011

Caribbean Regional Governance and the Sovereignty/Statehood Problem, Matthew Bishop and Anthony Payne 2011

Re-Energising CARICOM Integration, Tillman Thomas Report 2011

Existential Threats: Regionalising Governance, Democratising Politics (REVISED), Norman Girvan (CL.R. James Memorial Lecture) 2011

CARICOM’s Elusive Quest for Economic Integration, Norman Girvan 2010

Other stuff

For lots of other stuff from the past five years click on the category Caribbean Integration (not the page).,   Feature addresses by regional statemen, papers by regional scholars, petitions from social movements, commentaries, newspaper editorials, immigration controversies. My own previous papers at Norman’s Integration Papers. Official documentation of course at the Caricom website. For instance you can read all the Communiqués issued at the end of Caricom summits going right back to 1973, giving you a detailed, blow-by-blow account of the evolution of the Community since its inception (you have to read between the lines of course, what’s unsaid is often as significant as what is said!); the full text of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, other key documents such as the Grand Anse and Rose Hall Declarations, reports of the Technical Working Group on Governance and the Single Development Vision, Havelock Brewster’s paper on the feasibility of the CSME without a political union; presentations made at the Caribbean Connect Symposium (2006). Unfortunately Time for Action: Report of the West Indian Commission, another major document, isn’t available online.

Two excellent analytical studies on Caricom economic integration are the Caricom Report No. 1 and the Caricom Report No. 2 (IADB/INTAL). Also follow to INTAL and search; report of the regional CSME Seminar held at the UWI Institute of International Relations in November 2005 ( Also see is Repositioning the Caribbean within Globalisation by Payne and Sutton published by the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Canada. Other on-line resources at the websites of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery; the Caribbean Development Bank; the Caribbean office of the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean the East Caribbean Central Bank The ECLAC website above has an excellent data base on intra-Caribbean trade CARIBTRADE; together with powerful analytical tools. The SALISES 2004 annual conference was on the CSME and produced several useful papers. Also check out the website of the Association of Caribbean States for material on functional cooperation in the Greater Caribbean region. My own book, Cooperation in the Greater Caribbean, speaks to this subject.

Hard-copy: the handbook CARICOM: Our Caribbean Community is,   a comprehensive archival and descriptive reference book on the Community, its history, its organs and its programmes—everything you wanted to know about Caricom but didn’t know you should ask. Distributed directly the Secretariat directly (free copies are available to public institutions and libraries and who knows, to deserving researchers as well), and through Ian Randle Publishers. The Caricom Trade and Investment Report available on-line and last published by the Secretariat in 2010 (earlier editions in 2000 and 2006) is another ‘must-consult’ resource for economic researchers; its 500+ pages contain a huge amount of statistics, critical analysis and information on CSME initiatives. Equally essential reading, from the qualitative and political standpoint, are the books edited by Kenneth Hall and Dennis Benn as a result of the UWI-Caricom project and published by Ian Randle Publications including Integrate or Perish, Beyond Survival, Governance in the Age of Globalisation, Contending with Destiny and Production Integration. Several are the result of academic conferences and include contributions by virtually everyone who has ever written or spoken on the subject.

For historical perspective, make sure to read the work of the late William Demas on The Deepening and Widening of Caricom and The Economics of Development in Small Countries with Special Reference to the Caribbean, the Report of the West Indian Commission Time for Action, and the classic work of Havelock Brewster and Clive Thomas The Dynamics of West Indian Economic Integration. Both have continued to write extensively about integration; some on the website (use the search function).,   To those arguing for a new regional political union: please make sure to review the lessons of the failed West Indies Federation, amply documented, inter alia, by John Mordecai in The West Indies: the Federal Negotiations and by Arthur Lewis in The Agony of the Eight.

As you can see, there is no lack of material on the subject! But a great deal of research remains to be done to advance—and critically evaluate–the integration process. In every respect–the economics, the politics, the sociology and the cultural aspects of integration–remains a wide open field for research.


Last updated April 14, 2012