Lloyd Algernon Best

Lloyd Algernon Best

Caribbean economist, professor and intellectual who was part of the group called the “plantation economy theorists.”

Lloyd Algernon Best was born on February 27, 1934, in Trinidad and Tobago. He studied at Cambridge and Oxford Universities in Britain. In 1957, he joined the faculty of the University of the West Indies campus in Mona, Jamaica. In 1976, he left teaching to dedicate himself exclusively to political and social activities, which he pursued through the organization Tapia House. He also founded the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of the West Indies in 1997. It was renamed the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies in 2007.

The plantation economy theorists, who also included Kari Polanyi Levitt, Norman Greivan and Eric St. Cyr, were interested in understanding the legacy of the plantation system in contemporary Caribbean economies. In his foundational essay on the topic from 1968, titled “Outlines of a Model of the Pure Plantation Economy.” Lloyd argued that “The legacy of institutions, structures and behaviour patterns of the plantation system are so deeply entrenched that adjustment tends to take place as an adaptation within the bounds of the established framework.” These structures and patterns of behavior, say Lloyd and his colleagues, keep the Caribbean economies trapped and act as obstacles to change. Therefore the figure of the escaped slave was reclaimed as the symbol of the culture of resistance and as a fundamental hope for change from within the system. The culture of resistance of the escaped slave was mainly reflected in what Lloyd called the “residentiary sector,” or in the residential production activity that emerged after the abolition of slavery.

Lloyd Best died on March 19, 2007, at the age of 73. Much of his work was published posthumously, including Essays on the Theory of Plantation Economy: A Historical and Institutional Approach to Caribbean Economic Development, published in 2009 and co-authored by Kari Polanyi Levitt and Economic Policy and Management Choices: A Contemporary Economic History of Trinidad and Tobago, 1950-52), published in 2009 and co-authored by Eric St. Cyr.

Author: Luis Galanes
Published: June 09, 2012.

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