This interdisciplinary, student-run conference is a celebration of the interdisciplinary, thought-provoking work that students within Caribbean Studies have put together this year. Within the broader conference theme of Crisis, Continuity and Change in the Caribbean, students have submitted works which speak to, but are not limited to the issues of cultural and diasporic identities, the influence of political crises in the region and the broader histories of anti-imperialism and self-determination.
Seemingly overnight, Covid-19 has changed the world as we know it. COVID-19 has highlighted the intersecting vulnerabilities and contradictions of “business-as-usual” development in the Caribbean. Countries designed to be dependent on tourism revenue to import food now find themselves in a situation where they have shortages of both. As a region that is hyper-dependent on tourism for a staggering 50 to 90 percent of the G.D.P. of respective economies, the industry is a vector for both potential income and disease, as tourists often transport COVID to islands which are ill equipped to deal with it. Political leaders who count on remittances and migrant work as a way to avoid making tough, but needed political changes at home, now face the closure of borders.
The recent disruptions Caribbean countries are experiencing have sparked discussions around potential areas of change within the post-independence struggle, as the countries strive to construct societies which are more self sufficient and economically diverse. The future is uncertain, leaving opportunity for growth in terms of regional integration, self sufficiency, and solidarity. This is a venue where students and members of the community will discuss change in the region, and imagine articulate solutions.
Student research will be showcased, covering engaging topics like cultural identity and hybridity, economic and political development, and other contemporary issues. Furthermore, the conference keynotes will discuss COVID-19's effect on migrant farmers.
As part of our programming, in addition to our panels we are honoured to be joined by Judy Grant (PhD candidate OISE/WGSI), who will be providing an update on the ongoing relief efforts in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. During our lunch intermission, we will be treated to a live steelpan performance by Tracey Soman. Lastly, our keynote speakers, Chris Ramsaroop (Caribbean Studies instructor, and longtime migrant farmworker organizer) and Gabriel Allahdua (former migrant farmer from St. Lucia turned advocate), will shed light on how COVID-19 has impacted migrant farmers, outlining the multitude of challenges they face providing both essential work and an economic lifeline back to their families.