Violet Eudine Barriteau
La Universidad de las Indias Occidentales (The University of the West Indies, UWI), Campus de Cave Hill, Barbados.
“Do not think about things too much – do them – and continue with the next task”
In 2019, Professor Barriteau received the Barbados inaugural Order of Freedom for her outstanding contribution to higher education and her pioneering leadership in the development of gender studies. Hailing from Granada, Violet Eudine Barriteau is a Caribbean scholar, feminist, and activist whose achievements have impacted the entire region. Previously, in February 2016, she was awarded by her native country with the Gold Award for Excellence, the highest honor in the country. With a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University (1994) and an extensive list of peer-reviewed journal publications, 37 book chapters, including her book: The Political Economy of Gender in the Twentieth-Century Caribbean (Palgrave, 2001), Professor Barriteau graduated with an MPA in Public Sector Financial Management from New York University (NYU) in 1984, a degree obtained as a Fulbright Scholar administered by Laspau. When Eudine Barriteau applied for the Fulbright Fellowship, she was the research assistant to a political science professor at UWI. That job required extensive travel throughout the region which allowed the young woman to develop her interests: politics, travel, and at the same time acquire a solid knowledge of the culture, history, and development of the region.
At seventeen, Ms. Barriteau began her academic career as a teacher at St. George High School. She wanted to be an airline stewardess because she spoke French and she thought she would have a good chance of achieving it, but she wore glasses, which was not allowed in that profession at that time. She, therefore, decided to become a teacher to help support her mother who worked to support her family. “The Caribbean was built on the backs of its women,” Professor Barriteau used to say. Her mother had left Granada and her marriage, taking her two younger children. In Granada, they had lived comfortably in their own land, in a very different way from the life they encountered in Barbados at the beginning of their stay in that country. Upon obtaining the Fulbright scholarship, Professor Barriteau asked Laspau to attend NYU where she had previously obtained admission at her own expense and this was done. Upon graduation, she continued studying at Howard University. While pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science, she attended Social Science Philosophy classes taught by Professor Jane Flax who inspired her so much that, within two years of her Ph.D., she changed course to focus on Political and Feminist Theory.
Fascinated by the impact of theory on the construction of women’s lives upon her return to UWI in 1992, Professor Barriteau taught a course focused on Caribbean Women’s Studies. Within a year, UWI created the Center for Gender and Development Studies and Professor Barriteau was appointed the first head of that Unit at the Cave Hill Campus later known as the Nita Barrow Unit.
During her tenure at UWI Professor Barriteau has spearheaded many initiatives impacting Barbados and the region. In 2017, she launched the Smart Campus Initiative, designed to rethink the delivery of higher education goods and services in Barbados and the Caribbean by harnessing technology to support development. Under her leadership, the Cave Hill campus gained recognition meeting comparability standards for the Faculty of Medical Sciences from the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA). Also, in 2017, her initiative to create a Faculty of Sport came through, it was the first new school in 47 years. Finally, on August 1st, 2020, on Barbados’ Emancipation Day, the Faculty of Culture, Creative, and Performing Arts was inaugurated. For the Professor, this is her proudest achievement. Her creativity, knowledge, and accomplishments are impressive; her tireless work on behalf of the Caribbean region and its people is an inspiration to all.