Trinidad and Tobago: A Study in Cultural Paradox

  • Ruth J. Parsons
  • Catherine Ali
Part of the Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies book series (RCS)


This chapter describes a mediation training partnership between the University of Denver’s Conflict Resolution Institute and the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, and draws on the authors’ research studies regarding perceptions, preferences, and practices in negotiation, mediation, and restorative justice in the rapidly modernizing Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Increased gang-related violence and murder rates, hypermasculine gender identities, hierarchical structures, and notorious corruption have resulted in societal trauma, grief, fear, and loss of freedom. Significant power differences necessitate empowerment-based mediation strategies which include a third party known to all disputants who would take an active educational and advocacy role, and the use of religious principles for guidance and relationship repair. Proposed is a mediation practice framework which can mitigate gender and other power discrepancies, educate, and promote healing.


Trinidad and Tobago (TT) Conflict resolution Mediation preferences Mediation framework Education in mediation Power Empowerment Societal trauma Restorative justice Cultural context for mediation Gender-based power discrepancies 


  1. Ali, C. (1998). Alternatives to custody and prison transformation (ATC). Presented at the International Conference of the Alternatives to Custody Group, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, and Trinidad.Google Scholar
  2. Ali, C. (2013a). Navigating empowerment in mediation and restorative justice in Trinidad. Doctoral dissertation, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.Google Scholar
  3. Ali, C. (2013b). The bail boys court: Conflict transformation and restorative justice in Trinidad. Caribbean Journal of International Relations & Diplomacy, 1(4), 3–22.Google Scholar
  4. Archie, I. (2015). Opening Speech of Law Term. Retrieved from 2020_16.pdf
  5. Barrow, C. (1998). Introduction and overview. In C. Barrow (Ed.), Caribbean portraits: Essays on gender ideologies and identities (pp. xi–xxxviii). Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. Chalkdust. (2014). Historical perspective of calypso. Presented to Mediation Board of Trinidad and Tobago. Unpublished Symposium paper. Port O’Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.Google Scholar
  7. Collier, M. J., Parsons, R. J., Hadeed, L., & Nathaniel, K. (2011). Problematizing cultural dimensions in community members’views of conflict and conflict management in Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies. Howard Journal of Communication, 22(2), 140–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fisher, R., & Ury, W. (1981). Getting to yes. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  9. Folger, J. (2015). Hot button issues in mediation. Presented to the Conflict Resolution Institute, University of Denver.Google Scholar
  10. Folger, J., & Bush, R. (1996). Transformative mediation and third-party intervention: Ten hallmarks of a transformative approach to practice. Mediation Quarterly, 13(4), 263–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Government of Trinidad and Tobago. (2012). Trinidad and Tobago 2011 population and housing census demographic report. Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development.Google Scholar
  12. Hanson, E. (2016). SalusWorld. Presented to Trauma and Trust: Peacebuilding in Ruptured Social Systems, University of Denver, Denver, CO.Google Scholar
  13. Heeralal, D. (2011, February 8). Homicide Bureau paints grim picture. Trinidad and Tobago Express.Google Scholar
  14. Lederach, J. P. (1995). Preparing for peace: Conflict transformation across cultures. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Mayer, B. (2004). Beyond neutrality: Confronting the crises in conflict resolution. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass Publications.Google Scholar
  16. Moore, C. (2003). The mediation process: Practical strategies for resolving conflict. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  17. Omale, D. J. O. (2006). Justice in history: An examination of ‘African restorative traditions’ and the emerging ‘restorative justice’ paradigm. African Journal of Criminology & Justice Studies., 2(2), 50–51.Google Scholar
  18. Parsons, R. J., Ali, C., Picard, C., & Taylor, H. (2012). Mediators’ challenges in Trinidad and Tobago. Unpublished Manuscript. Not submitted.Google Scholar
  19. Parsons, R. J., & East, J. (2013). Empowerment in social work practice. In NASW Encyclopedia of Social Work. Washington, DC: NASW Publishers.Google Scholar
  20. Parsons, R. J., Hadeed, L., Collier, M. J., & Nathanial, K. (2010). Preferences for third-party conflict resolution processes in Trinidad and Tobago. Caribbean Journal of Social Work, 8&9, 32–53.Google Scholar
  21. Picard, C., & Melchin, K. (2007). Insight mediation: A learning centered mediation model. Negotiation Journal, 23(1), 35–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Reddock, R. (1998). Contestations over national culture in Trinidad and Tobago: Considerations of ethnicity, class and gender. In C. Barrow (Ed.), Caribbean portraits. Essays on gender ideologies and identities (pp. 414–435). Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers.Google Scholar
  23. Rohlehr, G. (2007). From apocalypse to awakenings. The Alma Jordan Library’s Videos. An Interview with Gordon Rohlehr in conversation with Paula Morgan. Retrieved from
  24. Rohlehr, G. (2013). Calypso, education and community in Trinidad and Tobago from the 1940s to 2011. Tout Moun: Caribbean Journal of Cultural Studies, 2(1), 1–54.Google Scholar
  25. Rohr, R. (2007). Things hidden: Scripture as spirituality. Franciscan Media, pp. 24–25. Retrieved from
  26. Singh, K. (1996). Conflict and collaboration: Tradition and modernizing Indo-Trinidadian elites (1917–56). New West India Guide, 70(3–4), 229–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Smith, V. (2013). World Scholars mediation and conflict resolution in civil society: A look at the developing society of Trinidad and Tobago. International Journal of Developing Societies, 2(1), 7.Google Scholar
  28. Sogren, M., & Parsons, R. J. (2008). Carnival: Fete or conflict? Caribbean Journal of Social Work, 6&7, 167–185.Google Scholar
  29. Tan, N.-T. (2002). Community mediation in Singapore: Principles for community conflict resolution. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 19(3), 289–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Triandis, H. C. R., Brislin, R., & Hui, C. H. (1988). Cross-cultural training across the individualist-collectivism divide. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 12(3), 269–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Tuso, H. (2011). Indigenous processes of conflict resolution. In T. Matyok, J. Senehi, & S. Byrne (Eds.), Critical issues in peace and conflict studies: Theory, practice, and pedagogy (pp. 245–269). Lanham: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  32. United Nations Development Programme. (2012). Caribbean human development report 2012: Human development and the shift to better citizen security. New York, NY: United Nations Development Programme.Google Scholar
  33. United Nations Sustainable Development Network. (2013). World Happiness Report. Retrieved from HappinessReport2013_online.pdf
  34. Wehr, P., & Lederach, J. P. (1991). Mediating conflict in Central America. Journal of Peace Research, 28(1), 85–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth J. Parsons
    • 1
  • Catherine Ali
    • 2
  1. 1.Conflict Resolution InstituteUniversity of DenverDenverUSA
  2. 2.University of the West Indies Open CampusWest IndiesTrinidad and Tobago

Personalised recommendations