Thursday, 20 January 2011

Institute of Commonwealth Studies - OSPA Witness Seminars

Institute of Commonwealth Studies - OSPA
Witness Seminars

The Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICwS), in conjunction with the Overseas Service Pensioners Association (OSPA) intends to hold two witness seminars. These will give OSPA members an opportunity to share their experiences with an academic and non-academic audience.

The purpose of the seminars is to encourage discussion and debate among all those attending rather than to listen to formal papers. Each seminar will, however, begin with a ‘position paper’ setting out the key issues and providing an agenda for the subsequent discussion.

The seminars will be held in Senate House, Malet Street, London from 11.30am to 5.00pm on Wednesday 25 May and Thursday 29 September 2011. There will be three sessions, one in the morning, and two in the afternoon. The sessions will be video-recorded, and the recordings will be available on the ICwS website.

The themes of the seminars are as follows:

Wednesday 25 May 2011 The ‘Westminster model’ and representative government

Subjects for discussion might include:
• To what extent was the ‘Westminster model’ of democracy considered suitable for British dependencies?
• What other forms of representative government were considered in the run-up to independence?
• How much preparation was there both for those to whom we handed over and to the general public?
• How effective and durable were the democratic structures inherited by newly-independent governments?
• What attempts were made to adjust the constitutional arrangements of British territories in the wake of independence?

Thursday 29 September 2011 Aid and trade: development in the British Commonwealth before and after independence

Subjects for discussion might include:
• To what extent was there a coherent British approach to the issue of development in the period preceding independence?
• How effective were the administrative structures devised to encourage development?
• What preparation was given to the establishment of small locally owned businesses?
• What was the attitude of newly-independent governments to the colonial legacy in the area of development?
• What parallels are there between contemporary British policies towards aid and trade and those pursued in the late colonial period?

We are currently seeking a ‘position paper’ for each of the two sessions from an established scholar with a research interest in the relevant subject area. The paper for the seminar on 25 May should set out in general terms British official policy towards representative models of government in the late-colonial period. The paper for the seminar on 29 September should provide an overview of British aid policy in the late-colonial period. The paper will be presented at the beginning of the seminar and will be circulated in advance. It should last no more than 30 minutes and should provide a framework for the subsequent discussion.

Expressions of interest should be sent to

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