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Nassau, Bahamas — Former Prime Minister of Barbados the Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur will give a Distinguished Lecture at The Bahamas at 40 Independence Conference at The College of The Bahamas this week on “The Philosophy of Nation Building”, one of the anticipated highlights of the international gathering of academics, researchers, scholars and activists.
Mr. Arthur, who led the Barbados Labour Party for 17 years, is the longest serving Prime Minister of Barbados (September 1994-January 2008). He is scheduled to address the Luncheon Lecture on Friday, June 14th – the final day of the Conference – in the Dining Hall of the University of the West Indies at COB’s Culinary and Hospitality Management Institute, Thompson Boulevard.
Faculty at The College of The Bahamas have been planning this historic Conference since last year, aimed at examining pivotal issues; investigating challenges and discussing contemporary social, cultural, economic and political issues that have emerged since 1973. The Conference will also provide the platform to explore future prospects for nation building and development.
Co-chair of the Conference Planning Committee Dr. Christopher Curry, head of the History, Religion and Philosophy Department in the School of Social Sciences at The College, explained that the process of nation building in the Caribbean cannot be examined without considering the long and tortuous legacy of colonialism in the region.
“No place in the world had a longer experience with colonialism–whether British, French, Dutch or Spanish–than the Caribbean islands. This very fact has not been lost on founding fathers of the region’s Anglophone nations. Owen Arthur, the longest serving Prime Minister of Barbados, offers particular insight on the charting of nation building for Caribbean countries. Indeed, he comes from an island-nation with a long history of British colonial entanglement, dating back to 1627,” Dr. Curry noted.
He further posited that Mr. Arthur understands the issues facing Caribbean nations as they attempt to fashion a new kind of relationship with foreign states outside the region.
“As both politician and academician, Mr. Arthur blends pragmatism with theory, providing a deeper understanding of how Caribbean nation-state building requires new kinds of initiatives in a world of globalization and transnationalism. Like many leaders before him, Mr. Arthur recognizes the paradoxes of the philosophy of nation building in the region,” Dr. Curry added.
A critical analysis of how nation building has evolved in the Caribbean region and the challenges which must be overcome is a primary consideration in bolstering resiliency and overcoming the demands of a dynamic, global age.
According to Professor of Sociology at The College and member of the Conference Planning Committee, Dr. Nicolette Bethel, Mr. Arthur’s experience as an economist and political leader will provide a timely perspective, particularly as The Bahamas observes its 40th anniversary of independence.
“What nation states need to be doing is learning how to govern themselves in a globalised world and Barbados has done a really good job and reinvented itself in the 21st century. Owen Arthur was central to that process. He is an economist and he understands the global economy,” Dr. Bethel said.
The Planning Committee will archive Mr. Arthur’s address (in both print and audio format) in The College’s virtual library making it accessible to a broad, international audience.
Mr. Arthur’s career as a professional economist began in Jamaica in 1973 where he served in the Department of Management, the National Planning Agency, as Director of Economics at the Jamaica Bauxite Institute and on the Board of Directors of the Jamaica Scientific Council. Returning to Barbados in 1981, he served as Chief Project Analyst in the Ministry of Finance and Planning; as a Research Fellow at the UWI’s Institute of Social and Economics; on the Board of Directors of the Central Bank and the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation; and as Chairman of the Barbados Agricultural Development Corporation.
His contribution to public life through politics started with being a Senator in 1983 and in his 1984 election to the House of Assembly where he is its longest serving member. He became Leader of the Opposition in 1993, thereafter leading the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to a record three straight post-election victories in 1994, 1999 and 2003, during this time he was Minister of Finance and Minister of Economic Affairs for nearly nine years. His second stint as Leader of the Opposition started on October 18, 2010 and concluded on February 25, 2013.
The Bahamas at 40 Independence Conference, will be held June 12th – 14th, 2013 at The College’s Oakes Field Campus in collaboration with the Government of The Bahamas and the Inter-American Development Bank. Other sponsors for the event are the Ministry of Tourism, the Bahamas Telecommunications Company and Colina.
The opening ceremony will be held on Wednesday, June 12th at 6:00p.m. in The College’s Performing Arts Centre. Prime Minister Perry Christie is scheduled to deliver the keynote address.