Fifty years of Jamaican Independence: Developments and Impacts - Keynote Address
(Chair: Peter Clegg) Professor Brian Meeks, University of the West Indies, Jamaica
August 2012 will mark two significant anniversaries, but will also signal a third, which is rarely acknowledged. On 6 August and 31 August 2012, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, respectively, will celebrate 50 years of independence from the UK. However, the third, unobserved date is that this month and the two anniversaries together, symbolise the beginning of the independence process for most of the Commonwealth Caribbean. For the people in the region, independence came with tremendous, perhaps unrealistic, expectations. Freedom from colonial tutelage and domination was at the forefront, but the experience of the last 50 years has been a lesson on the limitation of sovereignty. Another area where there was great hope was in relation to the economy, with expected prosperity and social well-being. The experiences of the past 50 years have turned out to be sobering and contradictory, at best. This one-day conference provides a multi-disciplinary overview of Jamaica's internal development since independence, as well as the country's impact on the Caribbean and the wider world.