Divergent Destinies: State Racism, Civil Society, and Policies toward British Caribbean Youth at Home and Abroad 1900-70


ACLS Fellowship Program




This study describes the historical development of public policies impacting British Caribbean youth, focusing on the ways changing ideas about “race,” “national character,” and “cultural psychology” shaped social policy; and then measures the impact of those policies as actually implemented. By comparing outcomes among the grandchildren of British West Indian migrants in Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama, Barbados, and Trinidad, I take advantage of a natural experiment that allows me to test the hypothesis that migrants’ cultural heritage determines success among immigrant youth. My results demonstrate the plasticity of youth cultures, and suggest that public investment in education—even when undertaken by a xenophobic state—can open real opportunities for immigrant advance.