Physical Development Planning in the Caribbean and the re-articulation of State power (2006)

Author(s): Pugh J

    Abstract: This chapter is concerned with the ways in which the governments of different Anglophone Caribbean countries have responded to the changing discourses of physical development planning coming from first the colonial office, then ‘the West’ more generally. It shows how local governing elites from the Cabinets of these countries are adept at re-appropriating these discourses. In many cases, they have done so in order to build up their own power, at the expense of the power of local planning expertise. I specifically describe the ways in which the formal centralized power of many Anglophone Caribbean States has been maintained through various planning procedures and Acts, and re-articulated in various forms, from the 1930s, to the new era of institutional capacity building which has developed since the 1990s. The latter puts emphasis upon creating local solutions to local problems, building up the capacity of Caribbean States to become more proficient in developing their own expertise and solutions for environmental planning, rather than substantive development regimes and policies being dictated from the West. An important question explored herein is: have these new institutional capacity building discourses emerged because Anglophone Caribbean elites have suddenly become anxious that they need to connect more effectively with their civil servants and planning experts around coherent local visions of development for the nation? Alternatively, is institutional capacity building being adopted in the Caribbean because donor agencies have been so heavily criticized over the last few decades for projecting their vision of development, that the emphasis is now placed upon locally based solutions? In agreeing with the second proposition rather than the former, this chapter shows how local elites have seized on the idea of ‘local solutions to local problems’ in order to increase their power over development further. The chapter therefore shows how local elites in the Anglophone Caribbean have played upon the increasingly prolific development imaginaries of ‘context counting’, ‘local solutions to local problems’ and the politically correct anxieties of Western donors, in order to 8 Environmental Planning in the Caribbean strengthen their positions. Far from Western development agencies dominating the region in a deterministic manner, in practice, it will be shown how local elites from the Cabinets of many Anglophone countries continue to re-appropriate, adapt and mediate Western-planning discourses, as they have since the earliest days of physical development planning in the region. It is not grand narratives of development that are important; but the way in which local governing elites re-articulate these narratives, in order to increase their abilities to govern the people of their country.

    Notes: The first chapter to explore the re-articulation of State power - from colonial to post-colonial planning systems - in Anglophone Caribbean countries.

      • Book Title: Environmental Planning in the Caribbean
      • Pages: 207
      • Publisher: Ashgate
      • Publication type: Book chapter
      • Bibliographic status: Published

      Keywords: Caribbean planning, State domination, planning expertise


      Dr Jonathan Pugh
      Senior Academic Fellow