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Open Access Ecumen(ical) texts: Caribbean nation-states and the global ecumene

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Ecumen(ical) texts: Caribbean nation-states and the global ecumene

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image of New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids

[First paragraph]The Haunting Past: Politics, Economics and Race in Caribbean Life. ALVIN O. THOMPSON. Kingston: Ian Randle, 1997. xvi + 283 pp. (Cloth US$ 70.95, Paper US$ 27.95)Nationalism and Identity: Culture and the Imagination in a Caribbean Diaspora. STEFANO HARNEY. Kingston: University of the West Indies; London: Zed Books, 1996. 216 pp. (Paper J$ 350.00, US$ 10.00, £6.00)Recharting the Caribbean: Land, Law, and Citizenship in the British Virgin Islands. BILL MAURER. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997. xvii + 301 pp. (Cloth US$ 44.50)Building on views espoused by the American Enterprise Institute, columnist George Will solves the dilemma of unequal development among contemporary nation-states in one fell swoop: Western Europe and North America outstripped Latin America and its environs, among other places, for one reason - culture. Much meaning must be unpacked from that word, but the conclusion is: The spread of democracy, free markets, technology, and information is not enough to rescue ... nations, from the consequences of their cultural deficits. Such deficits, although not incurable, are intractable. (Will 1999:64)Another "lesson to be drawn," he says, is that "Government cannot revise culture, wholesale, but government has - it cannot help but have - cultural consequences" (Will 1999:64). Even as we embark on the twenty-first century, we cling to hoary, Age of Imperialism presumptions about the character and role of culture - signaled implicitly with a capital C. Such presumptions fuel statements like the above; governments convey material and moral improvements but these do not take hold in culturally inadequate environments.

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