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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012



At the end of World War II, most Caribbean islands remained in some sort of colonial or dependent relationship. Independent states were uncommon. The balance was quickly reversed, however, and the thirty years to 1975 brought independence to the majority. By 2010, there were thirteen independent nations in the Caribbean. Another eleven distinct polities made up of islands or island groups remained part of the territory of a country outside the region but these accounted for relatively few people. This rearrangement of allegiances marked a major transformation, the political and social significance of which are still being worked out. The process was complicated, not only because it occurred in the shadow of the Cuban Revolution of 1959 but also because the decline of formal imperialism and colonial status occurred in parallel with a great strengthening of long-term tendencies towards Americanization, internationalism, transnationalism, and globalization.

Caribbean people were caught up in this powerful process of change, both as individual actors moving relatively freely from place to place within the North Atlantic world and as the citizens of states that were almost always too small to be able to shape the world economy of material and cultural resources. They were contributors as well as receivers, particularly in the globalization of culture, but the new relationship that the islands now had with the wider world made the development of nationalism within the Caribbean more ambiguous and more ambivalent.

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