New book by Best and Levitt on Plantation Economy launched at UWI

St. Augustine – March 12, 2010

Following book launch, UWI Economics Department to hold open forum with students

Professor Kari Polanyi Levitt launches book on Plantation Economy, co-authored by late Dr Lloyd Best Essays on the Theory of the Plantation Economy: A Historical and Institutional Approach, a new book highlighting the present-day significance of Plantation Economy theory, was launched on February 25th, in a private ceremony held under the auspices of Professor Clement Sankat, UWI Pro Vice Chancellor and St Augustine Campus Principal.

The book is co-authored by the Dr Kari Polanyi Levitt, Professor Emerita, Department of Economics, McGill University, Canada and the late Dr Lloyd Best, founder of the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of the West Indies (now the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies) as a think tank for research and discussion of Caribbean issues. Both Levitt and Best hold Honorary Doctorates from The University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus.

Essays on the Theory of the Plantation Economy provides a fascinating insight into the conceptual underpinnings of the theory of plantation economy initiated by Dr Best and Dr Levitt in the 1960s as a basis for analysing the nature of the Caribbean economy. While acknowledging an intellectual debt to Latin American structuralists and also to the work of Dudley Seers and William Demas, the authors develop an original and innovative analytical framework as a counter to more “universalist” models which failed to take account of the Caribbean reality.

Mr. Errol Simms, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, delivered brief remarks at the ceremony, which was chaired by Mr Martin Franklin, Head of the UWI Department of Economics. Mr Bryan Khan, Research Officer, Telecommunication Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, presented a review of the new publication.

“The book explores such themes as the Teaching of Economics, the Revised and Expanded Model of Pure Plantation Economy, the Accounting Framework of the Plantation Economy and finally the Model IV of the Plantation Economy which describes the requisite changes which would allow for the break with dependency, commonly referred to as the Anti–Model,” Khan said.Khan praised the Plantation Economy model for transcending the traditional economic framework and contributing significantly to the emergence of a holistic and continuously evolving developmental paradigm. He stated that the theory of the Plantation Economy “forced a reconsideration of the historical and institutional characteristics which define our regional realities.”His audience included Professor Rhoda Reddock, Campus Deputy Principal, Ms. Jennifer Joseph, Campus Librarian, Professor Funso Aiyejina, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities & Education, Desmond Allum SC, Mr. David Abdulah, President of the Federation of Independent Trade Union (FITUN), and Dr. Pat Bishop, celebrated artist and holder of an Honorary Doctorate from The University of the West Indies, as well as several University Directors and Lecturers, and members of the Lloyd Best Institute and family.

“[T]he major contributions to Caribbean thought are attributed to works which have blurred the line between these different disciplines. A significant opportunity arises when a literary work is able to transcend these lines, and contribute to the development of not only its primary discipline, but to a uniquely relevant Caribbean ideology. It is in this context that the concept of the Plantation Economy Model stands out as a key piece of the mosaic that is Caribbean society,” Khan said.

On the heels of the book launch the Department of Economics hosted an open discussion for its graduate and final-year Economics Students with Emerita Professor Kari Levitt on March 11th, 2010.

Copies of “Essays on the Theory of the Plantation Economy: A Historical and Institutional Approach” are now available at the University Book Store, Email: uwi.bookshop@sta.uwi.edu. For more information, please contact Ms Tennille Fanovich at Tennille.Fanovich@sta.uwi.edu or (868) 662-2002 Ext. 2018 or 3231.

For the latest UWI News, click http://sta.uwi.edu/news.

About Essays on the Theory of the Plantation Economy

Essays on the Theory of the Plantation Economy: A Historical and Institutional Approach identifies the main features of the plantation economy as a hinterland characterized by subordination and dependency on the dominant metropole. Distinguishing between hinterlands of conquest, settlement and exploitation, Best and Levitt analyse the rules that determine this complex relationship with the metropole. Their economic theories are presented against a background of the historical factors that gave rise to the “structural continuity” of Caribbeaneconomies and which now impede meaningful structural transformation.

Denis Benn, Michael Manley Professor of Public Affairs/Public Policy at The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus (Jamaica), states, “The book is offers a genuinely ‘indigenous’ perspective on the challenges facing the Caribbean. It is both pioneering in its thrust and sophisticated in content and methodological approach. It is undoubtedly one of the most important economic texts ever produced on the Caribbean.”

About Lloyd Best

Dr Lloyd Best pioneered the New World Movement and its journal, New World Quarterly; and Tapia, a movement, a journal and a political party in Trinidad and Tobago. He also founded the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of the West Indies (now the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies) as a think tank for research and discussion of Caribbean issues. Most of his writings were published as newspaper columns spanning decades of endeavour. He is the author of Independent Thought and Caribbean Freedom and co-author (with Eric St Cyr) of Economic Policy and Management Choices: A Contemporary Economic History of Trinidad and Tobago, 1950–2005.

About Kari Polanyi Levitt

Kari Polanyi Levitt is Professor Emerita, Department of Economics, McGill University, Canada. Among her publications are Silent Surrender: The Multinational Corporation in Canada; Reclaiming Development: Independent Thought and Caribbean Community; and a comprehensive collection, The George Beckford Papers. She is founder of the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development and of the Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy in Canada.

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