Nirmal Maraj and Dylan Kerrigan
“Racial capitalism” is a brutal socio-economic system. Regionally across the small islands nations and countries of the Caribbean the scars of this system are everywhere. They include the collision of colonialism and capitalism and the legacies of exploitation and dependency that emerged from centuries of structural racism. These include; the transhistorical structural violence that has shaped some of the highest per capita murder and crime rates in the world; the intense economic inequalities and social class hierarchies found across the region; the new plantations of the tourism industry and their class and race implications; the failures of neo-colonial independence to provide economic and social justice; and much else.
The introduction and spread of deadly disease within the region via tourism and globalization can be read as one aspect of how racialised global capitalism facilitates the spread of Covid-19 from elsewhere to a region historically exploited and underdeveloped, and how different nations and populations will experience the social and economic fallout from Covid-19 in different and uneven ways.
Since the deadly and genocidal initial encounter with Europeans wherein scholars estimate that diseases brought to the Caribbean contributed to a casualty rate of 80-95% of the indigenous population, the region has across centuries grappled with several pandemics. Two key factors stand out in these earlier pandemics. Firstly, they were all imported. Secondly, when the spread began, it was the poor who were disproportionately affected…
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