Copyright © 2000 International Development Options
All Rights Reserved
Volume Two Winter 1999-Spring 2000 Numbers 1-2.
THEME: CARIBBEAN DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES: ISSUES AND OPTIONS
THE IMPORTANCE OF MIGRATION FOR CARIBBEAN DEVELOPMENT
Department of Geography
Bloomington, Indiana 47405
Published Online: December 15, 2016
Since the incorporation of Caribbean nations into the external spheres of European mercantilism in the sixteenth century, they have both prospered and suffered under colonialism. They underwent fundamental demographic changes during the plantation era; and their social and economic history is one of successive phases of immigration, emigration, and circulation. These international mobility processes have both transformed the densely settled Caribbean island systems and contributed to their identities. While Caribbean insular economies are now struggling to find appropriate frameworks, the current global shifts and neoliberal restructuring of the Western Hemisphere's international realms do not appear to favor the prospects of small island nations. Migration has invariably been cast as a necessary detriment: as a "safety valve," a "brain drain," an escape, a de-population process, a severing of ties, and a perpetuation of dependency. Rarely has migration been viewed as a strategic necessity and a global process with multi-faceted consequences, many of which are positive. This article assesses some of the challenges faced by the island micro-states of the Caribbean in the current world of macro-structural changes, and it identifies some promising potential progressive "development" avenues . Integral to this assessment is the continuing significance of transnational migration traditions in the lives of the region's people. There are several ways migration and its consequences are likely to contribute to a sustainable future for Caribbean people and places. Far from being a negative outcome of persistent underdevelopment, the impact of migration holds out promise for the twenty-first century.