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CLACS Caribbean Studies Seminar Series actively promotes intellectual engagement and knowledge exchange by providing scholars - including postgraduate students and early career researchers - with the opportunity to present their interdisciplinary, comparative and integrated research on the Caribbean.

Hauntings of Islands’ Sovereignties: An Examination of Curaçao and Trinidad and Tobago’s Response to the Venezuelan Migration Crisis

Natalie Dietrich Jones (Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES),University of the West Indies) 
Shiva Mohan (Toronto Metropolitan University) 

This paper assesses the shifting responses of the governments of Curaçao and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to the ongoing Venezuelan migration crisis. Both islands have faced censure from the international community regarding their responses to the increasing numbers of arrivals of vulnerable migrants and refugees due to the crisis. They also experienced tipping points in their approaches, with mixed results for the development of a refugee protection framework, in each jurisdiction. The paper thus demonstrates the paradox of sovereignty for these two small island states who must balance the constraints of limited human, physical and financial resources with the responsibility to protect. As products of empire, these Caribbean states’ sovereignty continue to be impacted by colonial and imperial experiences. While the paper emphasizes the commonalities between the two cases, it thus also discusses a principal distinction. The level of autonomy in each islands  is a key variable impacting their exercise of sovereignty, with direct implications for the management of migration matters. Drawing on the islands’ geo-historical contingencies and specificities, this paper argues that the long-standing debate regarding effective sovereignty in the region is aptly demonstrated in the contemporary reality through states’ management of migration issues. It also suggests that future migratory events of similar or greater magnitude will require states continued surrender of sovereignty in order to prioritize migrant protection.

Natalie Dietrich Jones is Research Fellow at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) at the University of the West Indies Mona campus. Her interests include geographies of the border, governance of migration, and intra-regional migration in the Caribbean. Natalie is Chair of the Migration and Development Cluster, an inter-disciplinary group of researchers exploring contemporary issues concerning migration in the Caribbean and its diaspora. Natalie holds an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in Development Policy and Management from the University of Manchester. She is currently undertaking a multi-sited project on the response to Venezuelan migration in small island developing states in the Southern Caribbean. 

Shiva S. Mohan is a human geographer with research interests situated at the interface of migration and mobility studies, island studies and political geography. His work seeks to underscore the ambivalences, contradictions and precarities within migrants’ lived experiences, in addition to those faced by territories vis à vis transnational migrations. Shiva is a Research Fellow at the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Migration and Integration program at Toronto Metropolitan University, where he leads two research projects: as part of a Horizon Europe consortium, the “Measuring irregular migration and related policies in the Canadian context” project (MIrreM Canada), and a Soli*City project investigating intergovernmentalism and “firewalls.” Shiva is a member of the Migration and Development Research Cluster at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), The University of the West Indies. He is also an associated researcher and trustee with Swiss-based research NGO, Environmental Mobility Research Unit (EMRU).

All are welcome to attend this free seminar, which will be held online via Zoom at 16:00 GMT (UK time). You will need to register in advance to receive the online joining link. Please click on the Book Now button at the top of the page to register.

Seminar Programme 2024/25
Autumn term
24 September 2024 
22 October 2024
19 November 2024
3 December 2024
Spring term

Eve Hayes de Kalaf (IHR) 

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