We take care of our own: The origins of oligarchic politics in St. Maarten

Jessica Roitman, Wouter Veenendaal

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper investigates the origins, development, and consolidation of political oligarchy in the Caribbean island nation of St. Maarten. It investigates why oligarchies develop in small settings despite the democracy-stimulating tendencies of smallness posited by the academic literature. It offers an historical analysis of St. Maarten politics, and investigates how the smallness of St. Maarten has contributed to oligarchies on the island. The article analyses the political dynamics that buttress and sustain oligarchic rule in small island societies. St. Maarten is an interesting case study because it is typical of the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, including historically high levels of migration, and is understudied. Additionally, the island has experienced oligarchic politics for centuries, which makes St. Maarten a perfect case to study the link between smallness and oligarchy. Finally, because St. Maarten is nonsovereign, our analysis could yield insights into the effects of non-sovereignty on the formation of oligarchies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-88
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Issue number102
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


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