CLACS Caribbean Studies Seminar Series
A Crisis of Legitimacy: Assessing the Decivilizing Process of the State of Trinidad and Tobago
Speaker: Melissa Mendez (Cardiff)
Chair: Caroline Parker (Manchester)
This paper assesses the legitimacy of the young, post-colonial nation-state of Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago has a history of slavery, independence, oil, and austerity. It is against the backdrop of the country’s post-independence successes and failures that this paper discusses the rise of a radical Islamist group – the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen (the JAM) – which attempted a coup d’état in 1990. The attempt failed, but this proved a turning point for safety, security, and legitimacy within the twin-island Republic. This paper argues that the impunity enjoyed by the JAM in the aftermath of the attempted coup d’état strengthened the group’s power, both within the criminal underworld and with successive governments. Since 1990, there has been an increase in the number of gangs within the country, an increase in the number of serious crimes committed, and a decrease in the support for state institutions, in particular, the police. This paper argues that the rise of the JAM was the catalyst for the delegitimation of the State in a Weberian and Eliasian context.
Event date: 6 December 2022
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