Sat | Sep 19, 2020

Letter of the Day | UWI is backward

Published:Saturday | November 9, 2019 | 12:00 AM


The late and extremely missed Wilmot Perkins referred to the University of the West Indies as an intellectual ghetto. Many rebuked him for doing so, but few evaluated the truth of his statement.

Though the institution’s business and science departments have improved, its social scientists, with the exception of a few anthropologists and sociologists, are seen as silly by the public. Jamaica is a country fraught with problems, so there is great demand for research on our culture. For example, we live in a low trust society and such societies are often poor and corrupt.

Hence, a maverick social researcher should be exploring the reasons for this dilemma. Speculation is sometimes true, but it is no substitute for research. One may instinctively know what underpins Jamaica’s trust deficit, but policy cannot be built on gut feeling.

Trust is an essential ingredient for the flourishing of market economies; therefore, identifying the cause of low trust would provide a boost to Jamaica’s floundering economy.

In this context, building an institute for the study of Jamaican values at The UWI is thus an apt response to filling the gap in cultural research.

But instead, lecturers at The UWI continue to inundate the media with sound bites concerning dancehall, teaching patois, reparation and other nonsensical issues.


Based on the reasoning of our scholars, Jamaicans are still suffering from the trauma of slavery. So in an attempt to resist Western influences, they propose a radical form of cultural nationalism. As a result, even negative features of Jamaican culture are legitimised under the guise of embracing our Jamaican identity. Therefore, teaching Patois becomes an exercise in resisting the use of the English language. On the other hand, ‘shacking up’ indicates an opposition to Western family life.

These intellectuals do not seem to care that many elements of Jamaican culture are functional for living in Jamaica, but maladaptive for human flourishing.

In actuality, The University of the West Indies is a bastion of emotionalism seeking to lead the people of Jamaica to a path of intellectual regression, bearing no progress.

Jamaicans must be brave and resist all efforts by The UWI to further corrupt our intellectual culture.