Accepted paper:

Political power now and then in Trinidad


Dylan Kerrigan (University of the West Indies)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at political power and techniques of old and new elites in Trinidad. It describes and examines the norms, ideologies and language of political power under colonialism and compares these element to political power today.

Paper long abstract:

What is political power? What does it look like? How has the political power derived from Enlightenment ideas spread to modern elites in nations geographical far away from Scotland? This paper investigates the political power and techniques of old and new elites in Trinidad and Tobago. It identifies empirical and discursive evidence of connections between colonial and neo-colonial elites. The merit of such an inquiry is not to feed studies of white guilt but to highlight the ways in which racism, class warfare, and a predisposition for particular ideological projects connected to Western Enlightenment tradition manifest themselves in the colonial and postcolonial context . Building off the work of anthropologists of social justice and the "coloniality of power" such as Iris Marion Young, Walter Rodney, Anibal Quijano and Arturo Escobar the enquiry looks at the values, norms, and convictions of contemporary, local political culture, practice and discourse including specific practices of the politically powerful then and now such as nepotism, corruption and gangsterism to describe the contemporary and common culture of politics found in this ex colony.

panel P74
Power, desire and social contract: power's aftermath in the contemporary world