May 2011

Issue Home >>


At midnight on May 29, 1962 – 49 years ago to the day – the West Indies Federation ceased to exist after running for four years (from 1958) with ten participating territories. It was primarily a political union involving Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Trinidad and Tobago.

A few months later, a Common Services Conference was convened to work out areas of continued cooperation and The University of the West Indies (in April 1962, the University College of the West Indies was converted from a college to a university), along with the Caribbean Meteorological Service and the Regional Shipping Service became the only three major entities to continue providing service to the region.

The ensuing years have seen independent nations formed, and the birth of community organizations like CARIFTA and CARICOM. Later would come movements to establish the CSME and the CCJ, still works in progress as far as implementation and acceptance go.

Nearly fifty years since the failed Federation, it is still unclear to many whether there should be an entity that could be identified as a West Indian nation. Certainly, there is little confidence that the politically driven movements have gathered the kind of momentum necessary to either create or sustain the development of a homeland for us all.

Is there any plausible argument to abandon the West Indies? Have politicians provided possibilities one way or the other? Understanding as we should, the uniqueness and richness of our culture, could we not seek to find visions and concepts from within the creative belly of Caribbean society?

This special issue of UWI Today turns to the leadership of the institution most qualified to bear the regional mantle, for their views on regionalism in the 21st century and their thoughts on where The University of the West Indies should locate itself in that context.

By Vaneisa Baksh,
Editor, UWI Today