Studies Association meeting a big success
By John Collins (1)
than 300 scholars, including large delegation from Puerto Rico, hail superb
leadership, outstanding program and excellent hospitality.
The Bahamas – More than 300 scholars from throughout the Caribbean
and from the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe and elsewhere gathered recently
in the Nassau Beach Hotel for the 27th annual conference of the
Caribbean Studies Association, dubbed CSA2002. The theme of the conference was
“Coping with Challenge, Contending with Change.”
the delegates was CSA President-Elect Ivelaw L. Griffith, the Florida
International University (FIU) scholar who hailed the important contributions to
CSA2002 of University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Prof. Emilio Pantojas Garcia who
chaired the Program Committee, and Prof. Carolyn C.M. Rolle of the College of
the Bahamas , who chaired the local host committee.
first met in San Juan in 1975 and again in 1985 and 1996. Two CSA presidents
were Puerto Ricans and two others were residents of the island. The CSA
Secretariat has been hosted by Inter-American University in San German for the
past 13 years but is now moving to Florida Gulf Coast University.
the first time the association met in the Bahamas and the College of the Bahamas
and the local host committee received repeated praise from delegates, especially long-time
CSA members, some of whom have memories stretching back to its beginning.
though the country had held a general election May 2 which resulted in a change
in the government, the opening ceremonies were attended by the new Prime
Minister Perry Christie, who not only addressed the meeting but later hosted a
sumptuous reception at which he personally greeted every attendee accompanied by
the New Attorney general and minister of Education Alfred Sears.
A former professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York,
Sears introduced the prime minister.
to academia to participate
remarks the new Bahamian leader appealed to CSA members “to take an interest
in all aspects of your individual societies and the region and as intellectuals
to anticipate, recognize, interpret, analyze and explain the challenges, and
help policymakers develop critical and practical policies and programs to cope
Ivy Dumont, the Governor General of the Bahamas, hosted a lovely reception at
her residence for the CSA and Amb. Luigi Einaudi, the assistant secretary of the
Organization of American States (OAS), addressed a plenary luncheon about the
OAS role in the Caribbean. Also in attendance was [Association
of Caribbean States Secretary General Norman Girvan.]
Most delegates were hard pressed to recall another annual
meeting as well as organized and coordinated. Singled out for particular
recognition was the leadership and organizational skill demonstrated by Griffith
who graciously recognized the “significant contributions” of Pantojas’ in
organizing the best program committee ever.
acknowledged the contributions of UPR and FIU. All agreed that what made the
Nassau conference better than any other before was the manner in which the
Program Committee made a considerable advances in harnessing the considerable
scholarly research such meetings produce. A long time complaint has been that,
because there are more than 100 papers presented, many simultaneously, it was
difficult to collect more than a few papers.
cooperation between UPR and FIU
delegates were in for a surprise, thanks to the cooperation between UPA and FIU.
Upon registering each delegate was presented with disc with the program. and,
most importantly, 44 of the papers presented. While that still meant that over
half of the presenters had not turned in their papers in advance as requested,
the vast improvement was hailed by many as a great step forward and a particular
challenge for future meetings.
collectively CSA members in the diaspora, particularly the U.S. and Canada, are
the largest in number, the delegation from Puerto Rico was the biggest in
attendance, from the region and, including Puerto Rican scholars in the U.S.,
numbered more than two dozen. President Griffin hailed the large attendance from
Puerto Rico and expressed appreciation to both UPR and Inter-American U. for the
considerable resources they extended to the CSA. Other island institutions
represented at the conference were Sagrado Corazon University and the Ana G.
a majority of the papers concentrated on U.S.-Puerto Rican relations and status
as well as the Vieques controversy, others addressed Puerto Rico’s role in the
region, sustainable development, gender and race issues, the media, etc.
Participants from Puerto Rico included Emilio Pantojas, Eduardo Aponte, Juan
Manuel Carrion, Humberto Garcia Mu#iz, Juan Manuel Garcia Passalacqua, Jorge
Giavannetti, Gilberto Gonzalez, Aaron Ramos and Jose Sequinot, among others.
the conference was Sybil Farrell Lewis, long time CSA member who died recently
in San Juan. The widow of scholar Gordon K. Lewis, Farrell had a distinguished
career as an educator and editor at UPR. A native of Trinidad, she lived in
Puerto Rico for more than 40 years.
Other articles by the well known Caribbean author John Collins can be read
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