March 2017

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Our role in culture

At the time of writing, the wonder that is Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival season has come to a close. I specify Trinidad and Tobago because in the world today the phenomenon of Carnival is now global in context. What began as a creative statement of enslaved people has bloomed beyond all reckoning. Today Carnival is spreading over the globe, bringing with it a benevolent hegemony of music, dance and of course, mas.

Culture is one of the greatest assets of a people. As the Caribbean institution tasked with regional development, The University of the West Indies has an irreplaceable role in culture. We are and must continue to be its stewards. We must preserve it for future generations. We must promote it – both as a source of economic activity and for its own sake as a representation of our identity. We must examine it, celebrate its excellence but also recognise its failings and work for its improvement. I am pleased to say that in 2017 we took that responsibility very seriously.

This Carnival, the Department for Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA) continued its outstanding leadership in the creative sphere with Old Yard 2017. This innovative event does so many things at once. It is a teaching tool for students. It is a cultural preservation and promotion exercise. It is an income generating activity that illustrates the entrepreneurial value in cultural properties. Furthermore, this is just one of many DCFA activities, on and off campus, that support and leverage culture simultaneously.

Speaking of leveraging culture, Carnival 2017 was yet another year of our highly successful UWI Fete. UWI Fete 2017, “Wanderlust – Taste the World” brought together a massive gathering for an extremely worthwhile cause. The event, an initiative of the UWI Development and Endowment Fund (UWIDEF), provides tuition support for worthy students from the region. In a nation that has developed world-class expertise in festivals, UWI Fete stands out as one of the best. It will forever be remembered as the very first all-inclusive Carnival fete. Congratulations to the UWIDEF Committee and their support team.

This year we took part in Carnival and we also took it apart. The Cultural Studies Section of the Department of Literary, Cultural and Communications Studies, brought together scholars, entrepreneurs, artists and policymakers for a two-day examination of the festival. This event, “Memory Politics and Performance in the Trinidad Carnival Complex” is an outstanding example of the University at its best – venturing beyond the campus, sharing ideas with stakeholders, and seeking workable and sustainable solutions. That is a model that we can and should apply not only to culture but to any area where our research and expertise can bring value to the society.


Campus Principal: Professor Brian Copeland
Director of Marketing and Communications: Dr. Dawn-Marie De Four-Gill
Editor (Ag) : Joel Henry

Contact us:
The UWI Marketing and Communications Office
Tel: (868) 662-2002 exts. 82013, 83997