Cultural Studies
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

A Treaty Does Not Make a Community: Race and Migration in Barbados

Stacey L. Cumberbatch

Major Professor: Zofia Burr, PhD, Department of English

Committee Members: Dae Young Kim, Michael Malouf, Susan Harewood

Enterprise Hall, #318
October 28, 2015, 12:30 PM to 09:30 AM

Abstract:

This dissertation is about the racialization of immigration in Barbados. Between 2008 and 2010, the topic of immigration generated a heated debate in Barbados. The so-called ‘immigration problem’ resulted from increasing numbers of undocumented immigrants coming from neighboring Caribbean countries, especially from Guyana. The debates about the undocumented immigrants problematize them in ways that focus on their race, suggesting that the problem is not so much, or not only, their undocumented status, but more so their race. This becomes more apparent when Indian Guyanese are singled out as being unsuitable and unwelcome immigrants while similar sentiments about black Guyanese are not as strong, or altogether absent. This problem is particularly significant because it occurs at the critical juncture when Caribbean countries are implementing a regional integration strategy, the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), which would permit the free movement of labor between member states, and for all intents and purposes unify them. I use textual analysis of the immigration debates taking place on blogs, regional integration treaties and immigration policies for this dissertation. The analysis in this dissertation is informed by critical race studies, Caribbean studies and post-colonial studies, and is written from a cultural studies perspective that emphasizes contextualized research. The dissertation offers chapters on the responses to the immigrants as well as chapters that situate the work within the larger scope of the history of race relations in the Caribbean and regional integration. The dissertation makes the argument that colonial discourses of race have been employed to problematize and racialize the immigrants and to justify why they should be kept out of Barbados.

 

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