Existing development theories predict that factors such as natural resource wealth and the legacies of European colonizers inhibit development. However, the case of Trinidad and Tobago challenges these theories, as a resource-rich former colony that has achieved high levels of development. What accounts for Trinidad and Tobago's development trajectory? Using the Black Marxist radical tradition, this study emphasizes what existing development theories miss, namely, the role of organized labor in enabling Trinidad and Tobago to escape the development trap through a different form of unionism that has not yet discussed in labor studies literature - "liberation unionism.” The findings suggest that development studies attend to how colonial labor legacies shape post-colonial development.
Zophia Edwards is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Black Studies at Providence College. Her areas of research and teaching include race and racism, political economy, postcolonial sociology, labor movements, international development, and political sociology.