The Belizean Garifuna ~ Organization Of Identity In An Ethnic Community In Central America

If the world had any ends, British Honduras would certainly be one of them. It is not on the way from anywhere to anywhere else’ (Aldous Huxley 1984:21).
When I had to do fieldwork in the Caribbean region for my final research several years ago, someone from the department of cultural Anthropology in Utrecht in the Netherlands asked me why I didn’t go to Belize. My answer to his question was at that time quite significant: ‘Belize??’  I had no idea where it was and could not picture it at all.
Libraries that I visited in the Netherlands hardly provided any solace. Most of the books on Central America hardly mentioned Belize. Booth and Walker describe the position of the country as follows in ‘Understanding Central-America’: ‘Though Belize is technically Central America, that English-speaking microstate has a history that is fairly distinct from that of the other states in the region. At present this tiny republic, which only became formally independent from Great-Britain in 1981, does not figure significantly in the ‘Central American’ problem’ (1993:3).

Multi-Ethnic Belize
The fact that Belize receives little attention in literature on Central America underlines the peripheral position of the country in this region. Some authors qualify it as part of the Caribbean world; others primarily see Belize as a member of the British Commonwealth. Besides that it is also seen as part of the Central American context. The Formation of a colonial Society (1977) by the English sociologist Nigel O. Bolland was the first scientific work on Belize that I was able to acquire. The Belize Guide (1989) by Paul Glassman provided me with a tourist orientated view of this ‘wonderland of strange people and things’ (Glassman 1989:1). Collecting sustaining literature was and remains a tiresome adventure. Slowly but surely my list of literature expanded.
My knowledge of the region was limited. Reactions from others also confirmed that Belize is a country with a slight reputation. For example, I still remember being corrected by someone from a travel agency. After asking the gentleman if a direct flight to Belize existed, he answered somewhat pityingly: ‘Sir, you must mean Benin´. In my circle of friends, Belize also turned out to be unheard of. The neighboring countries Guatemala and Mexico are better known. An important reason for this is that the media informs people of the most important happenings in these countries. This information is often clarified using maps of the area on which Guatemala and Mexico, but also Belize, are marked. Nonetheless, time and time again Belize turns out to be a country that does not appeal to the imagination.
The comments I heard from tourists coming in from Mexico or Guatemala are notable. ´This is a culture shock´, ´where are the Indians´, ´this doesn´t look at all like Central America´, ´it´s surprising how well you can get by with English here, that was not like that at all in Mexico´. Many of the tourists that come from Mexico quickly go through Belize city on their way to one of the islands off the coast of Belize where they relax for a few days before going to Guatemala. Most of the tourists coming into Belize from Tikal (Guatemala) spend a night in San Ignacio, comment on the fact that everything is so expensive, and quickly travel on to Chetumal (Mexico) the next day.
Belize is a country that lies hidden between two countries with a certain reputation. I do not really think that it is an exaggeration to state that Belize is something of a fictitious end of the world, as formulated by Huxley. In order to obtain an impression of the country, in which this research took place, the next section gives a general idea of the topographic and climatic characteristics. Besides that, the compilation of the population, the constitutional and political situation, the economic position, the religious context and the multi-lingual structure of the country are discussed successively. Furthermore, it is essential to provide an outline of the historic context in which the various ethnic groups in Belize have taken in their place. In other words: How has this country come to be so multi-ethnic?

Belize, A Central American Country on the Periphery
On 21 September 1981, the former British Honduras becomes independent. This date is the formal end of a process of independence that took seventeen years. In 1964, British Honduras of the time received the right to an internal self-government and in 1973 the name of the country was changed to Belize. With an area of 22,965 km2, Belize is the second smallest country in Central America. El Salvador is smaller (21,393 km2), but has considerably more inhabitants with it’s population of 5.889,000. According to the census of 1991, Belize has just 189,392 (Central Statistical Office 1992). This comes down to eight inhabitants per square kilometer, whereas El Salvador has 275 inhabitants per square kilometer. With that, the two countries are each other’s opposites in Central America, Belize is the most sparsely populated and El Salvador the most densely.

Google Images

Belize

Geography
Belize borders on Mexico in the north, on Guatemala in the west and the south, and on the east the country borders on the Caribbean Sea. The area along the coast consists mostly of marshland with dense mangrove forests, mouths of rivers, lagoons and, every now and again, a sandy beach. Countless small and large rivers, that have played a crucial part in the infrastructure throughout the centuries, run through the country. Much of the wood chopped in the inland found and finds its way towards its destination at the coast via these waterways. It can rain abundantly in Belize in the months May to November, especially in the south, and then the waterways swell up to become rapid rivers.

Climate
The climatic conditions in Belize vary from tropical in the south to subtropical in the north. The climate is warm and the temperature varies between twenty-seven and forty degrees Celsius. It was especially the humidity, with an average of 85% in the southern part of the country that drew heavily on the physical condition of this researcher. The country officially has two seasons. The dry season, that lasts from November to June, and the wet season from June to November. During the wet season, tropical depressions regularly develop in the Caribbean region that reveal themselves as hurricanes. For this reason, this season is also called the hurricane season. This destructive force of nature has hit Belize several times in this century. The hurricanes of 1931, 1955 and 1961 have not failed to leave behind a trail of disaster.

The season in which it is relatively dryer than the rest of the year takes up a few months in the north (February to May), while in the south it only lasts several weeks (Dobson 1973:4). In fact, there is no telling what the weather will do in Belize. A Belizean friend of mine says the following on this matter: ‘We have two seasons here, a dry and a wet season; they generally take place on one and the same day’. Read more

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Event-Empowering Cities Under the New Administration

The NYUSPS Schack Institute of Real Estate Urban Lab’s formal kick-off event, “Empowering Cities Under the New Administration,” was held on February 2, 2017 and featured Richard Florida; Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at the NYU Stern School of Business; and Benjamin Barber, founder and president of the Global Parliament of Mayors. The panelists debated the challenges cities face in engaging with the new administration and how they can support urban innovation in the context of a more complex political environment.

Go to: http://www.sps.nyu.edu/empowering-cities-under-the-new-administration.html

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Karen Reed ~ Eigth Ways Technology Is Improving Your Health

We hear all the time about how technology is bad for us. Since the introduction of computers. Even people working on App Development have the same issues, we spend more time sitting at a desk than moving around at work. We have created this sedentary lifestyle that is causing havoc in our overall life.

What if I were to tell you that technology has produced benefits? Would you believe me if I said that technology is good for your health?

Most of you wouldn’t look at first. Well, you may be able to think of a couple of ways that the computer has helped, but you are still stuck on all the negatives that ‘experts’ have shared in the past. The problem with the ‘experts’ is that they are only focused on the negatives. They haven’t looked at so many of the benefits.

So, that’s what we’ll do today. We’ll consider all the ways that technology improves our health. We’ll discuss just how it has boosted results in certain areas of healthcare and what it does for us daily.

Read more: https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/fitness/8-ways-technology-improving-health/

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David in Ethiopia

David van Reen (1969 – 2015)

Boeken:
Anbessa’s dochter (Uitgeverij In de Knipscheer – 2016 – ISBN 9789062659302)
Het land van de verbrande gezichten (De Geus -2008 – ISBN 9789071794056)
Engelen der wrake (De Geus – 2009 – ISBN 9789044512977)

Zie ook: http://stichtinglalibela.nl/

“Op een van mijn reizen kwam ik in Woldia. Ik besloot om een wandeling te maken naar de Maryamkerk, een eind buiten het stadje. De heenweg bergop was ongeveer zes kilometer. Halverwege kwam ik een meisje tegen dat Netsannet heette. Haar naam betekent ‘vrijheid’. Gezien de blik in haar ogen zou ze geen passender naam kunnen hebben. Ze had een blikje bij zich met daarin een beetje stro en een paar eieren. Op mijn vraag wat ze met die eieren ging doen, zei ze dat ze naar de markt in Woldia ging. Ik vroeg haar waar ze woonde. Dat bleek dicht bij de Maryamkerk te zijn. Ik was verbaasd. Ze liep twaalf kilometer om twee eieren te verkopen! Haar optimisme en de levensvreugde die ze uitstraalde, maakten indruk op me. Toen ik later de foto’s die ik van Netsannet had gemaakt, afdrukte en weer zag hoe levensblij ze was, begon ik me pas af te vragen waarom wij hier op aarde zijn en of het jachtige leven dat wij westerlingen leiden, ons wel gelukkiger maakt dan Ethiopiërs. Zo ben ik met andere ogen naar deze mensen gaan kijken. Eerder al had het land me verrast door zijn schoonheid en zijn vriendelijke mensen.”
Uit: Het land van de verbrande gezichten. Leven in Ethiopië, foto’s en tekst van David van Reen, Uitg. De Geus

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Bob van Huet ~ De man achter de generatietheorie

Driekwart van de Nederlanders rekent zichzelf tot een generatie. We kennen ze allemaal. De Stille Generatie zorgde voor de wederopbouw van Nederland na de Tweede Wereldoorlog. De Protest Generatie ontdeed het land van zijn grauwsluier. Voor al die leuke Babyboomers-experimentjes betaalde de Verloren Generatie de prijs. En dan komen er computers en komt de Grenzeloze Generatie in vol beeld.

Wie heeft dat eigenlijk bedacht, al die rake typeringen van onze generaties? Daar staat hij, Henk Becker (1933), de grondlegger van het vaderlandse generatieonderzoek. Een kwart eeuw geleden publiceerde deze wereldwijd bekende socioloog zijn standaardwerk ‘Generaties en hun Kansen’. De manier waarop hij de Nederlanders indeelde en typeringen meegaf als Verloren Generatie (geboren tussen circa 1970 en 1985) of Grenzeloze Generatie (geboren tussen 1985 en 1995) geldt nog altijd als basis van het onderzoek naar toekomstige trends.

Lees verder: http://www.ad.nl/de-man-achter-de-generatietheorie/

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Imperialism Is Alive And Kicking: A Marxist Analysis Of Neoliberal Capitalism

Prabhat Patnaik – Photo: wikipedia

The concept of imperialism has fallen out of the political lexicon of many leftists in the West, with some deeming the concept irrelevant for understanding the dynamics of contemporary capitalism.
Marxist economist Prabhat Patnaik has been one of the leading voices countering this trend. In A Theory of Imperialism, a book he co-authored with Utsa Patnaik, Patnaik explores how a new form of imperialism is at work in the unfolding of the capitalist system.
In this exclusive interview for Truthout, Patnaik states the case for the continuing relevance of imperialism as an analytical construct for understanding and challenging effectively the logic and dynamics of contemporary capitalism.

C.J. Polychroniou: How do you define imperialism and what imperialist tendencies do you detect as inherent in the brutal expansion of the logic of capitalism in the neoliberal global era?

Prabhat Patnaik: The capitalist sector of the world, which began by being located, and continues largely to be located, in the temperate region, requires as its raw materials and means of consumption a whole range of primary commodities which are not available or producible, either at all or in adequate quantities, within its own borders. These commodities have to be obtained from the tropical and sub-tropical region within which almost the whole of the Third World is located; and the bulk of them (leaving aside minerals) are produced by a set of petty producers (peasants). What is more, they are subject to “increasing supply price,” in the sense that as demand for them increases in the capitalist sector, larger quantities of them can be obtained, if at all, only at higher prices, thanks to the fixed size of the tropical land mass.

This means an ex ante tendency toward accelerating inflation as capital accumulation proceeds, undermining the value of money under capitalism and hence the viability of the system as a whole. To prevent this, the system requires that with an increase in demand from the capitalist sector, as capital accumulation proceeds, there must be a compression of demand elsewhere for these commodities, so that the net demand does not increase, and increasing supply price does not get a chance to manifest itself at all.

Such demand-compression occurs above all through the imposition of an income deflation on the petty producers, and on the working population in general, in the Third World. This was done in the colonial period through two means: one, “deindustrialization” or the displacement of local craft production by imports of manufactures from the capitalist sector; and two, the “drain of surplus” where a part of the taxes extracted from petty producers was simply taken away in the form of exported goods without any quid pro quo. The income of the working population of the Third World, and hence its demand, was thus kept down; and metropolitan capitalism’s demand for such commodities was met without any inflationary threat to the value of money. Exactly a similar process of income deflation is imposed now upon the working population of the Third World by the neoliberal policies of globalization.

I mean by the term “imperialism” the arrangement that the capitalist system sets up for imposing income deflation on the working population of the Third World for countering the threat of inflation that would otherwise erode the value of money in the metropolis and make the system unviable. “Imperialism” in this sense characterizes both the colonial and the contemporary periods.

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