News Releases

Panchayat: The Mas(s) in We Virtual Carnival Research and Arts symposium at UWI this week

For Release Upon Receipt - February 24, 2021

St. Augustine

What is the value of Carnival to society? What can be done to recover the creative and cultural heart of the national festival? “Panchayat: The Mas(s) in We: (Re)claiming de People’s Festival” hosted by The University of the West Indies (The UWI) St. Augustine Campus’ Faculty of Humanities and Education (FHE) is a virtual research and arts symposium which seeks to answer these, and other questions. Panchayat begins today, 24 to 26 February 2021.

Speaking on the event, Mr. Jessel Murray, Senior Lecturer of Music in the Department of Creative & Festival Arts and FHE Deputy Dean for Distance and Outreach said, “The deferral of the 2021 Carnival celebration provides a much-needed opportunity to reflect on the value of Carnival to the society. We at The UWI believe that it is critical that this moment is not wasted but is used instead to recalibrate the festival because it is obvious that there will be no returning to ‘business as usual. Such a forum can also help in the rebuilding of a festival ecology that is more sustainable – financially, environmentally and socially. We offer Panchayat as a space to converse about the ways in which the festival can be (re)fashioned to mediate the impulses of untethered profiteering, formulaic creative expressions and State ‘policing’.”

The three-day proceedings will include panel discussions from academics, researchers and activists, and roundtable discussions featuring notable stakeholders, creatives and other arts workers on the thematic areas of mas, literature, identity, music, history and resistance. The schedule of events also involves film screenings, literary readings/discussions, and short interludes or pre-recorded testimonials from the general public.

Murray also added, “Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival is a space which affords opportunities to ordinary folk to ‘talk back’ to the powers in society: to push the envelope, to laugh, to sneer or even destroy the structures of power and the personalities that represent societal oppression. The art and acts of ‘pushing and talking back’ have traditionally opened up room for society to look at itself, to reflect on its actions and to restore its better angels. Carnival has always represented a site where celebrants can assert their political and spiritual agency. We hope to further stimulate the national conversation on this vital festival.”

“Panchayat: The Mas(s) in We: (Re)claiming de People’s Festival” will be livestreamed via The University of the West Indies, St Augustine (UWISTA) YouTube channel -  




About The UWI

The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region.

From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global university with approximately 45,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and its Open Campus, and 10 global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world.

Ranked among the top universities in the world, by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists. In 2020, it earned ‘Triple 1st’ rankings—topping the Caribbean; and in the top in the tables for Latin America and the Caribbean, and global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the top universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action.

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(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)