Caribbean Cultural Researcher, Dr. Suzanne Burke, Publishes Her First Book, ‘Policing The Transnational’
Inspired to unearth the source of under-performance in the Caribbean's cultural sector, Burke suggests that success of this sector has been elusive because of a lack of cultural confidence, which ultimately determined the type of policies that were formulated and the manner in which resources were deployed over the period under review. In the book, Burke dissects the current predicament facing the region's cultural industries which, according to her research, remain under-developed due to a shaky policy regime. The book, which was born out of Burke's doctoral research in the field of Sociology from 2003 to 2007, reflects in-depth analyses of four key sectors (book publishing, the performing arts, popular music and the Trinidad overseas Carnival complex) within Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
Examining the post independence period over a forty-year time span, Burke digs deep into the core of the cultural dilemma identifying trends in policy formulation and implementation, which she argues have not always promoted the development of viable and sustainable cultural industries. Her findings point to some key trends that have been consistent throughout the period, including nationalistic policy approaches that fail to acknowledge or incorporate the transnational structure and form of the value production chains for the region’s cultural industries; poor documentation and rationalisation for policy choices; the lack of autonomy of culture within the public policy domain; the limited use of research to diagnose and inform the policy process; and a lack of physical, financial and human resources to activate the cultural domain.
Burke argues that disjunctures exist in the cultural policy realm, often resulting in a highly contested cultural space. For instance, the promotion of diversity, both in terms of incorporating the various needs of stakeholders, as well as developing the full range of the region’s cultural expressions have proven to be an ongoing challenge for Caribbean policy makers. She points to the recent debate over the efficacy of the newly constructed National Academy of the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Trinidad and Tobago as the most recent reminder of the importance of soliciting the needs of the widest range of stakeholders to ensure the sector’s overall benefit.
Speaking at the recent book launch, Mr. Rawle Gibbons, Senior Lecturer at UWI’s Department for the Festival and Creative Arts, reinforced Burke's position, "Policy is the area most critically lacking in the development of the arts in the Caribbean. Some may prefer to think it’s lack of resources, but the use of resources is also a policy factor. ‘Policing the Transnational’ answers the questions: what is cultural policy, what does it mean for the Caribbean, what is, in fact, the Caribbean and how can a policy be shaped for the benefit of its people/all stakeholders? In so doing, it fills a void in the literature available to the region’s practitioners, policy-makers and others involved in the practice, transmission and development of arts and the creative industries."
Burke has put the Caribbean’s cultural policing and policy making under the microscope. Policing the Transnational presents a launching pad and strategic framework for the development of effective and dynamic policies in the region that is based on a multi-level policy approach. Among Burke’s recommendations is the implementation of a strategic global repositioning initiative that involves the diversification of the region’s export trade; the supplementation of skills pools with overseas nationals; the improvement of the human capital base; modernisation of international marketing; and the development of strategic corporate alliances. At the launch, Burke optimistically looked to the future, “I suggest that the research captured in this book can be used to empower us going forward. We must return to the origins of the word policy specific to its meaning i.e. a set of practices and ways of being between various stakeholders and the state. In this way, I think it is possible for us to activate policy outside the mainstream places.” With a firm commitment to this vision, Burke announced the formalisation of the Management and Policy Planning Institute (MAPP), which evolved out of her findings and thesis for the book. With its objective of conducting evidence-based policy research, committed to enhancing the knowledge base within the region; developing sustainable policy practices; and encouraging a more secure, open and safe place for the Caribbean in the global system, MAPP is poised to become one of the foremost think tanks of the region.
Dr. Burke will present her contributions to the region’s policy sphere at the Caribbean Educative Arts Festival where she will launch Policing the Transnational in Barbados from October 15 to 22, 2010. Presently, the book is available online at www.amazon.com and at select bookstores throughout Trinidad and Tobago including the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s campus bookstore and the Blue Edition in Tunapuna. For more information visit www.themappinstitute.com.
Dr. Suzanne Burke and her latest addition to the Caribbean’s cultural debate, Policing the Transnational
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