The University of the West Indies Open Campus Antigua and Barbuda and the Antigua and Barbuda Studies Association
A 10th Anniversary Conference
“EXPANDING THE INTELLECTUAL COMMUNITY OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA”
The University of the West Indies Open Campus Antigua
August 6-8, 2015
Difficult as it may be to believe, 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of a continuous collaboration between the University of the West Indies Open Campus, Antigua (UWI) and the Antigua and Barbuda Studies Association (ABSA). Over the past ten years, this UWI/ABSA partnership has put on conferences, exhibitions, dramatic performances, celebrations of the authors and artists of Antigua and Barbuda, and launched the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books. To mark this significant milestone, we are planning another major conference like the one in 2005, which started this very productive partnership. It is our hope that you will be interested in presenting a paper at this important conference. The theme of this anniversary conference will be “Expanding the Intellectual Community of Antigua and Barbuda”.
We will direct our focus at the future possibilities of this intellectual community of which our partnership is a part. We will explore the ways in which we can best expand the reach, vision and capabilities of our intellectual community so that we, as a society, can participate more effectively and assertively in the new world that is being created by the ongoing revolutions in information and communication technologies. Adapting to this rapidly arriving world will require major changes in our systems of primary, secondary and tertiary education, and in collaborations such as the UWI/ABSA partnership. It is also going to require more effective linkages between the knowledge that circulates through these systems and the productive and administrative needs of our economy and polity. Forging these linkages are all the more important now as our political economy, and that of the larger Caribbean, are still in recovery mode from the global financial crisis of 2008. How to help stimulate this kind of growth is the challenge we have set for ourselves for the 10th anniversary of our partnership. However, before developing this theme in greater detail, let us take a quick backward glance at some of our major achievements of the past decade.
A Little History
The conference that founded this partnership was held on August 3-5, 2005 at the Jolly Beach Hotel. It theme was “The Political and Artistic Cultures of Antigua and Barbuda”. In attendance were 25 distinguished scholars and artists of Antigua and Barbuda including Gregson Davis, Jamaica Kincaid, Edgar Lake, Ermina Osoba, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Ellorton Jeffers, Milton Benjamin, Susan Lowes, Natasha Lightfoot, Mali Olatunji and Dorbrene O’Marde. The impetus for this conference was the success of the UPP in the elections of 2004, its implications for the democratic political culture of Antigua and Barbuda, and also for the life of the arts. It was at the closing session of this conference that ABSA was established, and, particularly in response to Edgar Lake’s presentation, the decision taken to launch the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books.
After a progress report in 2007 at the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, our next big event was another conference, “The Impact of 1968: Then and Now”, which was held at the Multi-purpose Center on August 13-15, 2008. Its theme was the political upheavals of 1968 and their immediate impact on two-party democracy in our nation and also decades later. We also launched the first issue of the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books. Participants included Ermina Osoba, Conrad Luke, Ellorton Jeffers, Robin Bascus, Keithlyn Smith, Sydney Prince, Ian Benn, Vincent Richards, Radcliffe Robbins, Mali Olatunji, Dorbrene OMarde, and Gaston Browne, then deputy leader of the ALP, and now prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
The following year, in August of 2009, we organized a discussion on “Constitutional Reform in Antigua and Barbuda”, which was led by attorney, Ann Henry. We also launched the second issue of the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books.
In August of 2010, our partnership launched its Distinguished Lecture Series. This produced several lectures on the Antiguan and Barbudan economy in the period after the Great Recession of 2008, including one on ABS Television. Among the lecturers were Don Charles, Vincent Richards and Paget Henry. And of course we also launched the third issue of the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books.
2011 was a very busy year for us. In January, we organized a major conference on “Education, Science and Development in Antigua and Barbuda”, at the Hospitality Training Institute. The focus of that conference was on all levels of our educational system, but with a special emphasis on the prospects for a University of Antigua and Barbuda. Participants included Distinguished Professor Lewis Gordon (keynote speaker), Jacqui Quinn-Leandro, Minister of Education, Anthony Joseph, Claude Turner, Hiram Forde, Vincent Richards, Vanere Goodwin, Ian Benn, David King, Conrad Luke, Mali Olatunji, and Anthonyson King.
In August of 2011, we launched the fourth issue of the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books, which was preceded by a dramatic performance and exhibition by the arts group, Roots Cultural Connection.
In August of 2012, we launched the fifth and very special issue of the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books that was edited by Edgar Lake. It was devoted to poetry written by women from Antigua and Barbuda. Contributing poets included, Elizabeth Hart, Veronica Evanson, Valerie Combie, Althea Romeo-Mark, Cynthia Hewlett, and Linisa George. The launch was preceded by a powerful dramatic presentation by members of the Young Poets Society of Antigua and Barbuda.
2013 was another busy year for us. In January we organized, with the aid of Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Committee/ ACLM, a conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the passing of our great scholar and activist, Tim Hector. The conference was entitled “Tim Hector, Caribbean Politics and Economic Development“. Participants included David Abdullah (keynote speaker) Aaron Kamugisha, Conrad Luke, Dorbrene O’Marde, Matthew Quest, Linley Winter, Lowell Jarvis, Don Charles and George Goodwin.
In August of the same year we launched the sixth issue of the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books. This issue celebrated the work of our distinguished theologian Rev. Kortright Davis, and included poems by men from Antigua and Barbuda.
In 2014, the month of August was a busy one. We organized a conference on “Religion in Antigua and Barbuda”, and launched the seventh issue of the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books, which celebrated the latest works of Jamaica Kincaid, Joanne Hillhouse. and Dorbrene O’Marde. The motivation for this conference was concern on the street about religious re-colonization by American mega-churches. Participants included Dr. George Roberts (Keynote speaker and performer), Fr. Reid Simon, Edith Oladele, Rev. Carlwyn Greenaway, Ermina Osoba, and David Spencer.
These in brief have been our major achievements of the past decade of which we are quite proud. Also, we are certain that they have contributed significantly to the intellectual life of our community.
Growing Our Intellectual Community
From the names of the scholars mentioned above, and the other educational institutions included in our brief historical sketch, we should now have a clear idea of the proportions of the intellectual community whose growth and expansion will be the focus of our conference. In particular, it should be clear that in carrying out the programs of this partnership between UWI and ABSA, we have had to reach out to Antigua and Barbudan scholars abroad, to the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, the State College, the Antigua and Barbuda International Institute of Technology (ABIIT), the National Archives, the Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute (ABHTI), arts groups like Roots Cultural Connection, and the ministry of education. In short, in practical or working terms, it is this collection of individuals and institutions that constitute the intellectual community that we wish to expand. Our rapidly changing local and global environments demand that we have some clear ideas about the organization and future of this important community, its place in the future of Antigua and Barbuda, and the wider Caribbean.
Given the legacies of our colonial and postcolonial histories, imagining the future of our community must include work on the fragmented nature of our national identity. This collective identity is most immediately insular (Antiguan and Barbudan), but it is also regional (Caribbean), diasporic (African), imperial (European/American) and now global (digital/cyber). In the strokes of our cricketers, the literature of our novelists and poets, the music of our churches and calypsonians, the writings of our bloggers, the ideals of our politics, and other practices, we can see the dispersed constituents of this potential but still elusive national identity. In spite of this difficult elusiveness, these are some of the vital fragments that must be better woven together and publicly represented. The better integration of these vital pieces is necessary if we are to continue to grow in both individual and collective self-consciousness. This increased self-consciousness is vital for expanding our vision and for moving forward as a community, a nation, a region, a diaspora, and a globe.
There are at least four good reasons why we should make the growth of our intellectual community the focus of our conference. First, the graduates of our secondary schools are increasing and thus are in need of increasing opportunities for tertiary education. Second, in the fast arriving globalized and digitized world, the Bachelor’s degree will be what the high school diploma was to the industrial era of the second half of the 20th century. Third, in order for Antigua and Barbuda to make an effective adjustment to this digital era, the volume of technical information circulating through our intellectual community, along with access to it, must increase significantly. Fourth and finally, as our stock of technical knowledge increases so too must the volume of our self-knowledge. That is, the knowledge that we have of ourselves both as individuals and as a people coming out of a history of slavery, racialization and colonization.
With these concerns in mind, we need to think about the existing limitations of our intellectual community, the factors that may be inhibiting its growth, and what new features it will need if we are to meet the challenges ahead of us. Thus we need to think about and write papers on how we can deepen the ties between the various institutions that make up the insular base of this community of learning, how to grow some of its institutions, how to increase their output, and how to make them more accessible to larger numbers of students. We should also think of ways in which we can better incorporate the two medical schools on Antigua into our community. In this spirit, partners from other local cultural institutions such as the National Archives and the library will be invited to make suggestions for deepening these ties and to talk about relations with umbrella organizations like ACURIL. At the same time, we must also think of ways in which we can deepen regional, diasporic, and global/cyber ties. An educational expansion of this nature is vital for Antigua and Barbuda’s entry into the more competitive and technological world that is ahead of us.
Giving the increasing necessity of the Bachelor’s degree mentioned above, the institutions whose growth and expansion have become most urgent are the State College, ABITT, and ABHTI. To meet this growing demand for tertiary education these institutions need to be upgraded and merged to constitute the University of Antigua and Barbuda. The creation of this university should be done in close collaboration with the University of the West Indies to ensure proper accreditation.
As we consider creating the University of Antigua and Barbuda, we should be clear on the change in our philosophy of education that it represents. Our current philosophy of education has its roots in the 1940s when the University of the West Indies was being founded. One of the clearest formulations of this philosophy was Eric Williams’ 1953 text, Education in the British West Indies. In this landmark volume, Williams suggested that an intellectual community such as ours was either the chambermaid to the existing order or a midwife to the emerging order. In the light of the postcolonial Caribbean societies that were emerging in the 1940s, Williams argued that the colonial system of education had become a chambermaid, watering and tending the inequalities and inadequacies of the dying colonial order of things.
In its place Williams argued for a system of mass secondary education that was strongly tied to the agricultural nature of our economy, and the creation of a “British West Indian University. He did not want this university to be an elite one like Oxford or Cambridge, but more like an American state university, that would be responsive to our cultural needs and also to the productive needs of our economy. This in a nutshell has been the philosophy guiding our educational goals, decisions and practices.
With the onset of the digitizing of information and the increasing demand for tertiary education, it should be clear that we must now carefully and appropriately expand this philosophy of education. We need to expand it in four crucial areas. First, we must make a new commitment to improving the quality and reach of secondary education. Second, at the tertiary undergraduate level, a system of island-based BA degree-granting universities or colleges need to be established, replacing AA degree-granting institutions such as our state college. Third, this new generation of universities would be appropriately adjusted versions of emerging digitized universities, such as the Open Campus of the University of the West Indies. Fourth and finally, UWI would then become the primary center for graduate education, granting most of the MA and PhD degrees produced in our region.
In these island-based universities, special fields of knowledge such as Antigua and Barbuda Studies, Grenada Studies, or Dominica Studies must be developed. These new fields of study would complement the broader fields of Caribbean Studies and Africana Studies and at the same time supply the increased volume of self-knowledge that we need at this time in our national development. In other words, as Caribbean Studies and Africana Studies provided the self-knowledge that supported the earlier nationalist phase of our philosophy of education, so these new fields of study in island-based universities will provide the higher levels of self-consciousness that is now needed for us to move forward. One of the main goals of ABSA and the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books is to help to create the new field of Antigua and Barbuda Studies.
It is within the framework of such a new philosophy of Caribbean education that we need to think about how we can grow and expand our intellectual community here in Antigua and Barbuda. We must think hard and write papers about making sure that our intellectual community becomes a midwife to the emerging digital order. Even more than when Williams was writing, it is important that these changes and expansions of our community reflect and respond to the informational and productive demands of our economy. Indeed, the emerging order challenges us even more urgently to think about the economic base of our community of learning, how it can generate revenue and provide valuable support to key sectors of our economy. In short, possibilities for deeper synergies between education, tourism, agriculture, government services and entrepreneurial training must be an integral part of the growth of our intellectual community that will be the focus of our 10th anniversary conference.
Towards this end we encourage papers on topics such as:
The Arts and the Growth of Self-Knowledge
Carnival and the Arts in Antigua and Barbuda Today
Science and the Growth of Self-knowledge
The Growth in Technical Knowledge Needed by Antigua and Barbuda
Merging the State College, ABITT and ABHTI to Form the University of Antigua and Barbuda
Linking Education to Agriculture and Tourism
What Should the Knowledge Sector of Our Economy Look Like in 2020?
Two-party Democracy in Antigua and Barbuda: An Update
The Antiguan and Barbudan Economy: An Update
Religion in Antigua and Barbuda: Continuing the Conversation
Race in Antigua and Barbuda
An Analysis of Recent Books on Antigua and Barbuda
Current Trends in Antiguan and Barbudan Literature
Current Trends in Antiguan and Barbudan Music
Caribbean Studies and Antiguan and Barbudan Studies
Africana Studies and Antiguan and Barbudan Studies
Antiguan and Barbudan Identity in the Digital Age
If you are interested in presenting a paper at this historic conference, please send us a brief abstract that includes your title, your name, and a brief description of the theme of your paper. These abstracts must be received by February 15, 2015. They will enable us to put you on the right panel. Your abstract, in a word document, should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org and to email@example.com .
Paget Henry Natasha Lightfoot Ian Benn Janet Lofgren
President Co-organizer Head Editorial Assistant
ABSA ABSA UWI (Antigua) A&B Review of Books