Questions  to Consider

 

Potter R. & Lloyd-Evans S. 1997. “Sun, Fun and a Rum Deal: Perspectives on Development in the Caribbean”, FOCUS on Geography Vol. 44:  pp. 19-26.

1. Are your impressions of the Caribbean similar to those described in the first 2 paragraphs? Mine aren't. On what information are your impressions based? I'm a professor, so I have to read the studies and journalistic descriptions about the lives lived by Caribbean inhabitants.

2. What does Lowenthal mean by "false homogenization"? Outsiders group the diverse cultures of the Caribbean into a generalized "fun loving" laid back population in Paradise.

3. Both the resident and tourist populations have increased since this article was published in 1997.

4. What do the authors mean by "series of service stations"? This is one view of the economic future of the Caribbean.  According to this view, Carbbean economies, especially those of the smaller islands, should be based on tourism, export processing, and offshore (tax-avoiding) banking.  These are all classified as service sector economic activities.

5. What is Gunder Frank's "dependency theory"?  "the longer a developing country was part of the European economic system, the more underdeveloped it would become.” 

6. Note the contrast between the Caribbean's political/ideological commonality and socio-cultural diversity. The populations descend from diverse regions, speak different languages and are primarily capitalist states led by center-right governments.

 7. What is the point(s) of this article?  The authors’ purpose is to characterize socio-economic change in the region and explain some of the commonalities differences between the islands.  What is the "Commonwealth Caribbean"? The former British colonies.

8.  List the disadvantages that Caribbean countries share?  "historical bonds of slavery and colonialism", poverty, high unemployment, low wages, heavy reliance on imports, lack of industrial development, high foreign debt, ...

9.  It's interesting how the islands exports are dominated by agriculture and yet they have to import food.  They grow what they don't need and import essentials.

10. How is tourism similar to the plantation economy? Resorts often are owned by foreigners, so profits leave the islands.  Demand depends on external markets (rich Europeans and North Americans).

11. What "passive path toward development" did the Commonwealth countries follow?  Smaller islands simply follow the development plans of larger, wealthier islands, which have developed economies heavily dependent on external markets and loans. How does debt influence this passive path? Island economies and governments are consumed by the need to repay debts so they cannot blaze new paths toward self-sufficiency, or follow Cuba's path.

12.  What's an "export processing zone"? A zone where foreign-owned companies import components duty-free and with cheap domestic labor assembles them into finished products for export.  In Mexico and Central America, they're called maquilas and/or maquiladoras.

13. What have the trends in agriculture been? Agricultural activity has decreased.  Plantation production of bananas has replaced sugar cane in some areas at the export crop. Although small farmers have emerged in some islands, food imports are necessary.

14. What are EPZs and FTZs? Export processing zones and free trade zones where "garments, electrical items, and other goods are assembled in sweatshop-like establishments.” How do they influence development?  They represent "light manufacturing" which provides better paying jobs and which allows these islands to produce yet another export product. Earnings go toward making debt payments.  However, many of the companies that set up these shops are foreign-owned. Therefore, a large portion of profits go off the islands. Who is employed in them? Mostly women.

15. What does "high tech in high heels" mean? Women work in the call centers.  They have become the main wage-earners in some areas with these jobs but those jobs barely provide a living wage.

16. What is the "global process of divergence"? The global process of divergence refers to the widening gap between the world's rich and poor countries and, at the country level, between urban and rural residents.

17.  What are the differences between "Plantopolis" and "metropolis"?  How are they related to divergence? Plantopolis refers to the settlement pattern established by the plantation economy.  Most workers lived and worked on the plantations.  Metropolis refers to the recent urbanization and industrialization of the Caribbean.  People have fled Plantopolis to live in urban centers and near tourist destinations where power and money is concentrated.  This rural-urban migration has contributed to the divergence in living conditions between the impoverished countryside and the densely populated, rich urban areas.  However, this broad classification omits the fact that large Caribbean cities include large slum areas where poverty is oppressive and violence is rife.         

18. What is the "international demonstration effect"? This effect is caused by islanders' desire to emulate the lifestyles of the tourists that they see in person, and the images they see in the media. Islanders understandably want better lives, but they're increasingly attracted to tastes and levels of consumption that are far removed from their homes and means.  How might it be a problem?  Having the wealth of tourists slap you in your impoverished face daily is bound to be an irritant.  It sets up unrealistic expectations.  It can cause people to turn away from economic activities like farming that might increase self-sufficiency.

19. What do the authors mean by "path of convergence"? The path of convergence is closely related to the international demonstration effect. Islanders' consumer values are converging with those of tourists and the people they see on TV.  How might it be a problem?  Changing tastes can change economic demand.  Island consumers increasingly want imported goods rather than goods produced on the Islands.  This hurts the local economy and makes it more dependent on imports of consumer products.

20. What were the trends in residential development? Low income, affordable housing is not being built.  Instead residential construction is devoted middle to upper class dwellings built along the coasts or in up-scale fortress subdivisions outside of the major cities. 

21. You must clearly understand the two concluding paragraphs.