(Black &) Blue Economy: Derisking and the Racial Capitalism of Underdevelopment in the Caribbean

Authors: Jovan Lewis*, University of California - Berkeley
Topics: Economic Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Tourism Geography
Keywords: Racial Capitalism, Blue Economies, Caribbean, Underdevelopment
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8226, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Against the backdrop of the earth’s oceans being seen as the last economic ‘frontier,’ the blue economy aims to promote economic growth, social inclusion, and the alleviation of poverty for local communities especially in small island developing states. Under this umbrella term, ocean-related tourism qualifies as a sector of the blue economy. While development agencies are touting the benefits of this economic ‘turn,’ small states like Jamaica are facing the impact of de-risking on their trade and broader financial integration. De-risking is the practice where international banks that enable key economic and financial transactions such as remittances for local financial institutions cease or threaten termination of access to the global financial system due to cost/benefit considerations and concerns about anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) risks. In Jamaica and elsewhere, these banks argue that the cost of AML/CFT compliance is too great for the returns that they see from these territories. In this paper, I want to consider the place of small states like Jamaica as they become increasingly situated between these two economic programs. Through that consideration, I bring to bear the theories of racial capitalism and underdevelopment as advanced by Cedric Robinson and Walter Rodney respectively to argue that it is exactly in such impossible scenarios that small postcolonial states have long found themselves positioned, which has guaranteed their extractive and exploitative potential. The ‘Black and Blue’ economy, therefore, tells a contemporary narrative of the long-understood role of the Caribbean in global capitalism.

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