UCCI holds its first international conference

The University College of the
Cayman Islands held its first international conference last week.

The conference opened on Thursday
with a reception and ceremony at Sir Vassel Johnson Hall.

Titled A Conference on Caribbean
Literature, Culture and Identity, the event featured international, regional
and local speakers who took part in panels and presentations on the campus
throughout Friday.

Keynote speaker at the opening
event, Professor Brian Meeks, director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Centre for
Social and Economic Studies at the University of West Indies, held the audience
rapt with his speech that explored historical links between politics, culture
and crime in Jamaica.

He described the “loosening of the
social glue that holds families and communities and, ultimately, the nation
together” in Jamaica that had led to the prevalence in crime there, but pointed
out this was not unique to Jamaica.

Other speakers and presenters who attended
the conference from overseas included Guyanese performer and storyteller Ken
Corsbie and Trinidadian author and poet Raymond Ramcharitar, writer of “The
Island Quintet” which is shortlisted for the influential  2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

Minister of Culture Mark Scotland congratulated
the university on holding the “timely and significant” conference on culture
and identity.

“I am confident this week’s
conference will take significant steps closer to understanding our collective
identity… and our unique diversity,” he said.

The evening included a fond and
passionate tribute to the late Jamaican scholar, choreographer, social
commentator and professor Rex Nettleford by Steve McField and remarks by
Livingston Smith, director of research and publication at UCCI.

President of the university, Roy
Bodden, introduced Professor Meeks and also concluded the opening with a vote
of thanks and a call on attendance on Friday’s jam-packed agenda of conference

Friday’s panels covers a wide array
from topics, from the Caymanian shopping experience to late artist Miss Lassie
to Caribbean musical expressions as forms of cultural identity.

The conference concluded Friday
with writer and journalist Bob Shacochis – winner of the American Book Award
for his first collection of fiction stories Easy In The Islands –  reading from a new afterword to his book The
Immaculate Invasion, about the 1994 US invasion of Haiti, which has been