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Local News 13 Apr, 2023 Follow News

Roy Bodden

By Staff Writer

A new book in the works by noted Caymanian historian Dr Roy Bodden will examine three critical aspects which have formed the foundation of the modern Cayman Islands.

Titled Immigration, Society and the Economy in the 21st Century Cayman Islands, Dr Bodden says the motivation for his latest work “is because these are the three most important things driving our development. So what I’ve attempted to do is deconstruct and analyse all of the happenings trying to get some explanation as what I see are the challenges.”

The book will be released in the fall of this year and follows the recent publication of an anthology of his works as a collector’s item tribute titled The Cayman Islands History, Politics and Society: Essays in Honour of J A Roy Bidden.

That compilation was curated by the Committee for the Promotion of Research and Cayman Scholarship.

Appearing as a guest on the re-launched Cayman Conversations with Ralph Lewis, publisher of Caymanian Times newspaper, Dr Bodden, a prolific author, said he hopes to see a greater interest in reading and acquiring knowledge about the jurisdiction by both nationals and adopted citizens.

He lamented the relatively low interest in reading and is concerned about the preoccupation with the acquisition and exhibition of material wealth which some feel reflects social status and achievement.

“We’re not a society of what I call letters because, from my experience as an author and an intellectual at the University, people don’t judge success in the Cayman Islands by education or educational contributions. Rather, they judge it by where you live, what you drive, what your salary is, and what kind of job you do.”

However, the Cayman academic, a former government minister and legislator, is hopeful. He sees a welcome shift, especially among young Caymanians.

“What I noticed is that Caymanians are more open and more willing to learn about Cayman; to learn about themselves. I would suspect that a part of that is they realise that we are a growing society and we have to share a space with a growing number of people who are immigrating into the society. And so Caymanians want to want to know about themselves and know that they are no lesser than anyone else.”

The issue of immigration is a central theme in Dr Bodden’s upcoming book Immigration, Society and the Economy in the 21st Century Cayman Islands.

“We have to decide what is a finite number of people that we can accommodate in the Cayman Islands as a society. Is it 80,000? Is it 100,000? And so we have to decide how we’re going to accommodate that because you can’t just bring in people. There has to be an acculturation process. The whole business of citizenship and belonging comes into question,” he contends.

He suggests that one way of addressing this is through District Councils - which have been legislated for but have been slow to get off the ground.

“I’m saying in my book that we’re on the wrong path because we are confused. There are two ways of awarding citizenship, but there should only be just one. And so I have a section talking about ancestral privileges. The people who have been established here for generations, where do they fit in this scenario? How do they accord equal status to those who came more recently? What are we going to do about that?” he asks.

According to Dr Bodden, “there is one elephant in the room” that must be addressed.

“We have to think about how we are going to accommodate these people in our political process. They’re going to want voting rights…and they’re going to be able to demand to set themselves up for elected office. So how are we going to accommodate them? I feel that we better think about these things,” he advocates.

That appears to be a priority conversation for Cayman to have.

In the meantime, the full interview with Dr Bodden is available in the new edition of our Cayman Conversation series available now on the Caymanian Times Facebook and YouTube pages.

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