CSA Conference Opening Ceremony
45th Annual Caribbean Studies Association Conference Opens Virtually in Georgetown With Over 1000 Professionals and Youths Across the Globe Participating
The 45th Annual Caribbean Studies Association (CSA) Conference was officially declared open on Monday, May 31, 2021, in Georgetown, Guyana, via a virtual webinar. Over 1000 professionals in various fields and hundreds of youths from across the globe are currently participating.
The Conference is being held virtually and for the first time hosted by Guyana, from May 31 – June 4, 2021, with the University of Guyana being the local organising partner. This year, the event will feature many concurrent discussions on issues related to three major sub-themes, namely, 1. “Identity, Politics and Caribbean Development, 2. “Industry and Ecology” and 3. “Industry and the Intelligent Economy.”
During the opening ceremony, remarks were made by; CSA President, Dr Tavis Jules; University of Guyana, Vice-Chancellor Xi, Prof. Paloma Mohamed Martin, and United States of America Ambassador, Sarah-Ann Lynch.
Professor Mohamed Martin, in her welcoming remarks, explained that for 45 years the CSA had never made it to Guyana until now and the University community and other local stakeholders are delighted that the event is finally here even though in a virtual format. She noted that having taken this long, the Conference has arrived at a “special and most historically momentous period of our time.”
She highlighted: “It is to the credit of the planners, who, with great determination and unstinting focus, ensured through their diligent work that we will be able in these next few days, to experience a conference which can boast many significant firsts. Amongst those, first in a pandemic, first virtual, first time open at no cost to students and teachers from Guyana and across the region, and the first time in Guyana.”
“The University of Guyana has been privileged to work with the various CSA teams over the last 24 months under the leadership of the current association President Dr Tavis Jules of Loyola University and Conference Chair Dr Kristina Hinds of UWI’s Cave Hill Campus amongst many others,” she added.
The VC also expressed gratitude to all the other local stakeholders and staff members of the University of Guyana. They have been working very hard and in difficult circumstances to ensure that the Conference is successfully held.
United States of America Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch, in her remarks, said she is proud of the partnerships that are being created in the region through the Caribbean Studies Association and the University of Guyana.
“Despite the challenges that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic, you have managed to come together for your annual conference, which I am sure will be filled with interesting ideas and spark plans for further collaboration and research,” the Ambassador expressed.
Ambassador Lynch posited: “The Embassy was proud to support this Conference through its public diplomacy funding- a source of support for people-to-people ties between the United States and Guyana. We are keen to strengthen partnerships, especially with those who share the same values of democracy, security, and shared prosperity. It is my hope that your interactions spur further development in the academic arena, and I thank you for all you have done to build the body of knowledge for the Caribbean region.”
President of the CSA, Dr Jules, highlighted that the Caribbean region is “slowly cracking the glass scaling,” and this was achieved by the appointment of the first woman Secretary-General of CARICOM, Dr Carla Barnette, and prior to that, the appointment of Prof. Mohamed Martin as the first female to hold such a post in the English-speaking Caribbean.
The opening ceremony also featured a rich cultural presentation titled; “Recollections,” which included traditional dances and poetry. The performances reflected that Guyana is a diverse country in every way, culturally, geographically, environmentally, and otherwise. “Recollections” pays homage to that diversity and to those old civilizations from which our people came and met the peoples who had already been here. It shows that our existence does not begin with slavery or indentureship. “Recollections” locates agency and memory through the work of notable Guyanese poets, all of whom have passed to the ancestors. Seymour, Dass, Khalicarran and Carter’s reflections on our identity and evolution as a people are performed in music, dance, oratory and shot on historical locations in Guyana, especially for this Conference.
The cultural presentation was produced by the Theatre Guild of Guyana with the Department of Events, Conferences and Communications (DECC) of the University, collaborating with Unique Arts, Waves of Emotions, Roshini Bhodoo, the Confucius Centre at the University of Guyana, and Nadre Designs.
Over the next four days, several high-profile speakers will join participants to discuss and find solutions to various issues impacting the Caribbean’s cultural, economic and social development, including Professor Mohamed Martin and London-based Guyanese novelists, Dr Michelle Yaa Asantewa. There will also be a high-level plenary (panel) of past CSA Presidents headed by the University of Guyana Chancellor, Professor Edward Greene titled, “Reflecting on the Future of the CSA through the Lenses of the Past,” and another titled, “The Life and Legacy of George Simon.” US Ambassador Lynch and Secretary-General (Designate) Barnette will also appear on a highlighted panel on women and leadership.
It is on those premises that for the next four days the Conference will focus on areas as follow:
1. Identity Politics and Caribbean Development:
This theme addresses treatments of identity in the Caribbean, including those relating to the meaning of the concept for the Caribbean contexts and the implications of identity for the Caribbean development. These areas cover;
· Colonialism, neo-colonialism, identity politics, and the Caribbean progress
· Youth issues and concerns and Caribbean development
· National, regional, and digital identity construction
· Migration and xenophobia in the Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora
· Race, class, gender, ethnicity, and reparations
2. Industry and Ecology:
This aspect of the theme addresses the nexus between the development imperative of “industry” and the need to protect the environment, of particular importance in this day and age. Some areas are:
· Education Services and Industry in the Caribbean
· The nexus between Tourism, Cultural Industries, Sustainable Development, and the Blue Economy
· Energy security, renewable energy, fossil fuels, and climate change
3. Industry and the Intelligent Economy
This theme addresses the linkages and contradictions that emerge for the Caribbean as a consequence of the emergence of technology-driven changes in the world that have been labelled the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Industry 3.0, and the Digital Economy of the Intelligent Economy. Some areas of focus are:
· Policy, the third industrial revolution/intelligent economy
· The state of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the Caribbean
· The implications of Artificial Intelligence on Caribbean life.
· The role and implications of disruptive technologies in the Caribbean
4. The Next Normal
This aspect of the theme addresses all that COVID-19 has brought to the surface for the region and considers how the varied elements of the broad conference theme intersect with paths forward during the COVID-19 and future post-COVID-19. Some of the areas of possible consideration are:
· The sustainability of virtual hybrid options for Caribbean contexts
· Rethinking industry and development during and following the COVID-19 pandemic
· Implications of living with physical distance and lockdowns in Caribbean spaces (race, ethnicity, gender, disability, social, political, and economic matters.)
Dr Tavis Jules
President of the Caribbean Studies Association
Prof. Paloma Mohamed Martin
University of Guyana, Vice-Chancellor, Xi.
Ms. Sarah-Ann Lynch
United States Ambassador
UG IN BRIEF
The University of Guyana is the 58th year state University of Guyana. It offers 136 programmes in over 60 disciplines online and face-to-face in 8 campuses across Guyana. With a student population of now 10,000, UG has provided education, learning and research for over 50,000 alumni. The mission of the University is to discover, generate, disseminate and apply knowledge of the highest standard for the service of the community, the nation and of all mankind within an atmosphere of academic freedom that allows for free and critical inquiry. UG’s forward-thinking Blueprint 2040 is currently setting the course for the University’s future design and institutional response to the changing needs of Guyana.
- The University of Guyana