Academic invited to Paris to speak at European conference

Roy Bodden to discuss Cayman’s history

Caymanian academic and author Roy Bodden has been invited to a conference in Paris to share his ideas on the territory’s history, its brand of “voluntary colonialism” and the rivalry between expatriates and locals, which he contends is threatening the stability of the society. 

Mr. Bodden was selected from more than 2,000 candidates to speak at the Council for European Studies Conference of the Europeanists in July. 

He was approached after the organizers of the conference read his book, “The Cayman Islands in Transition.” 

In a short summary of his presentation, Mr. Bodden outlines his contention that the Cayman Islands is a society on the cusp of upheaval. 

He writes, “Voluntary colonialism has led to an identity crisis among established Caymanians. This situation is further compounded by wage stagnation and income inequality which places established Caymanians at a disadvantage vis-à-vis expatriates.  

“I contend that this has implications for the disintegration of Cayman society, with expatriates accusing Caymanians of an “entitlement culture” and “established” Caymanians pejoratively labelling citizen expatriates as “paper Caymanians.” Such a toxic rivalry has spawned an unhealthy duality which, with no prospects for a rapprochement, leaves the Cayman Islands, as a society, at risk.” 

Mr. Bodden, also the president of the University of the Cayman Islands, said it was humbling to be recognized internationally for his work. 

He said the thesis of the book – that the Cayman Islands is a divided society – is more relevant now than ever.  

He said the well-publicized tirade last month by Health Minister Osbourne Bodden against his chief officer, Jennifer Ahearn, is a sign of deeper divisions within Cayman’s modern society. 

“I look at what we have just seen at the highest level of the government as a harbinger of things to come. We have to find a way to bridge the divide.” He believes deep divisions are caused, not just by immigration, but also by wage inequality in the Cayman Islands. 

“These things are not insurmountable. If we can bridge the gap between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ we can be a great society.” 

Mr. Bodden’s presentation, “Deconstructing Development: Immigration, Society and Economy in Early Twenty-First Century Cayman,” will be featured as part of the session “Offshore Europe on the Move: The Dynamics of Euro-Caribbean Societies and Politics in the 21st Century” at the conference, to be held in Paris, France, July 8-10.  

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Mr. Bodden
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