REVIEWS: THE HERO AND THE CROWD IN A COLONIAL POLICY By A. W. Singham

Reading Time: 11 minutes

In 1957 a sociologist taking stock of “The Social Sciences in the British Caribbean,” wrote that “the field of political science has been largely unexplored” (Braithwaite, p. 106). This assertion is correct except that it needed, perhaps some clarification, namely that there had been books on the area dealing with politics but not using the tools of political scientists. In the list of references following the article the student of political science was hard put to find more than seven books and one article treating politics in the British Caribbean.

Twelve years have passed since this assessment and it is high time that the state of the social sciences in what is now called the Commonwealth Caribbean be updated. So much has happened in those intervening years to these territories in the Caribbean, that many chroniclers, bent on having their say on passing events, have greatly multiplied the body of literature in all the social science disciplines. In point of fact, while the literature in the social sciences cannot be called, by any stretch of the imagination, “staggering,” there is sufficient literature in some of the social science disciplines to warrant separate articles in any new stocktaking venture.

Political science in one of those disciplines. The reasons for the proliferation of literature in this area are threefold.

Firstly, all political developments in the Caribbean-constitutional advancement in the individual territories, the federal attempt, the birth of new states, and the emergence of associated states born of the necessity for mini-states to take their place in the new world brought about by the headlong rush to decolonise – have moved at a quick rate.

Secondly, there is the interest of North America in the region, especially the United States since the emergence of Castro. It is no accident that there is a constant trek of professors and researchers from up North to the warmer climes of the Caribbean, (the weather is not the principal attraction). The security of the area looms large in U.S. thinking – note U.S. action in the Dominican Republic and in British Guiana, (now Guyana) and overshadows the shift from the parochial orientation to the universal approach in the study of political science in U.S. universities. Such is the case, for even when these political scientists originally turned from their studies of Europe to the study of other political systems, by no means did they rush to study these Caribbean territories.

A final reason is that the University of the West Indies is now in full stride and although its journals, Social and Economic Studies and Caribbean Quarterly are not devoted solely to politics, they have made a sizeable contribution. The same can be said of Caribbean Studies, put out by the Institute of Caribbean Studies of the University of Puerto Rico. More recent appearances on the scene have been New World Quarterly and the studies now emanating from the Institute of International Relations in the St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad.