Can Austerity Bring a “Better Future for All?”

This coming Wednesday, Levi Gaham and I have organized a public symposium on Austerity in Trinidad and Tobago, and we are very excited to build a platform for so many excellent scholars, public figures, students, and activists to share their thoughts. The goal is for presentations to be  punchy and provocative with the ultimate aim of giving pause to thought. Here are the details:

Can Austerity Bring a “Better Future for All?”
18th April, 6-8pm, TLC LTD
Organized by Dr. Scott Timcke (LCCS) and Dr. Levi Gahman (Geography and IGDS)

Responding to recession conditions and fiscal contraction in early 2018, Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s “Address to the Nation” set out the case for austerity. If Rowley’s assessment is correct, soon the people of Trinidad and Tobago will suffer under the burdens of sovereign debt, international bailouts, cuts in public spending, and high levels of personal destitution. We cannot take these austerity-induced categorical inequalities as a fait accompli. The possibility of a prolonged period of economic, social, and political insecurity in Trinidad and Tobago is very real, and the implications of such high instability should not be underestimated. A deeper and more strident analysis of what austerity concretely produces for people, society, and the environment is needed. As is a dialogue about alternatives. This panel will provide just that: a nuanced critique of the policies and politics of austerity, with a particular focus on what it means for Trinidad and Tobago.

Contributors from several different academic disciplines will offer overviews of what austerity actually is, what inequalities it may alleviate or worsen, and what alternatives there are to it. The panel will thereby provide attendees a panoramic analysis of the current fiscal crisis, as well as offer insights as to what created it. More specifically, participants will speak about issues related to oil sector dependency; social disparity and class stratification; environmental degradation and climate disaster; gender relations and repressive cultural norms; housing and property relations; and partisan politics and political brokerage. The overall aim of the panel is to demonstrate that only through an analysis of the historical origins and multiple guises of austerity can we move towards proposals for cultural change that enables human flourishing, environmental sustainability, and more solidaristic social relations.

6:00 Seating
6:05 Welcome & Opening Remarks Dr. Scott Timcke & Dr. Levi Gahman
6:15 Political Economy Cluster Dr. Daren Conrad & Ms. Sunity Maharaj
6:30 Society & Culture Cluster Dr. Dylan Kerrigan, Ms. Meghan Cleghorn, and Dr. Anne Marie Pouchet
6:55 Social Inequality Cluster Dr. Cheryl-Ann Boodram & Mr. Ian Dhanoolal
7:10 Ecological Justice Cluster Dr. Trina Halfhide & Ms. Adaeze Greenridge
7:25 Question & Answer Session Dr. Scott Timcke
7:55 Closing Remarks Dr. Levi Gahman

We have organized participants into 4 thematic clusters. These clusters seek to frame panelist’s unique insights and knowledge with a little didactic coherence to help the audience keep track of the overall message of the event. We have structured the program to provide a broad narrative arc to the event, that being how large scale developments like austerity shape the situated lived experience of people in Trinidad and Tobago.

Given the range of panelists, we anticipate that this narrative will be intersectional, even if any one person cannot cover all bases in their allotted time. Most importantly, each panelist will have approximately 7-8 minutes to present their take and analysis of causes and consequences of austerity in Trinidad and Tobago.

Hope to see you there.


Author: Scott Timcke

I’m a Lecturer in the Department of Literary, Cultural and Communication Studies at the University of the West Indies. I use Marxist methods to study social inequality, the digital mode of production, the causes and consequences of imperial violence in the early 21st Century.

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