Questions for CSA Past Presidents
Responses by Compton Bourne
CSA President 1985-86
How did you come to specialize in Caribbean Studies?
From my teenage years, I have had a deep interest in Caribbean affairs. It was natural then to concentrate my professional life on research and policy in the Caribbean.
How did your interest in and commitment to Caribbean Studies evolve?
First, as an interest in the politics, history and creative writing of the Caribbean. Later on, as a technical interest in economic development spanning all sectors but concentrated on finance and agricultural development.
When did you first join CSA and what did it mean to you then?
I think I joined in the mid-1970s. It was a splendid opportunity to exchange ideas with colleagues from the various language zones in the Caribbean in the field of economics and to learn from researchers in the other disciplines.
What were your goals for CSA the year of your presidency?
My primary Goal was to improve the scholarly content of the annual conference so as to increase its appeal to Caribbean-based academics.
What did you recognize to be greatest obstacles facing CSA and Caribbean Studies During your presidency?
The greatest obstacle was financial i.e. the difficulty of sourcing funds for the annual conference and the operating budget of CSA. A second problem was maintaining the cohesiveness of CSA as a scholarly entity in a region and world that were increasingly subject to political confrontation and conflict.
What did you consider to be the greatest accomplishment of CSA that year?
A very successful conference in Caracas which owed much of its success to the excellent local arrangements of Simon Bolivar University and Universidad Central.
Why did you choose the location you did for the CSA annual conference that year?
I don’t think I did. It was a decision of the entire Executive in response to an invitation to have the conference in Caracas.
Where do you hope to see CSA in the next ten years?
I would like to see CSA as a very strong entity constantly replenishing its ranks and energizing itself with young scholars; deepening its role in supporting research on the Caribbean; and interfacing more effectively with the specialized disciplinary associations.
What is one of your fondest CSA memories?
The first conference in Guadeloupe. It was a very enjoyable blend of scholarly exchange and social interaction.
What are you doing now in terms of the Caribbean?
I continue to research, write, advise researchers and lecture on Caribbean economic development and to engage Caribbean policy makers at the highest levels as well as international institutions and governments outside the Caribbean.
Where do you see the future of Caribbean Studies?
I see Caribbean Studies remaining a compelling matter for Caribbean intellectuals but perhaps less so for non-regional scholars in an era of diminished geopolitical and international economic significance.
What would you recommend to a young scholar starting in Caribbean Studies?
Develop a field of expertise while not losing touch with the work in other disciplines; network intensively.