Racing Nature and Naturalizing Race of Creole and Garifuna Communities
by Melissa A. Johnson
In this article, I explore the relationship between colonial racial ideologies and Belize’s natural landscape past and present. The Creole, Garifuna, Maya and Mestizo groups are each associated with different parts of Belize, and with different ways of living in the environment in each of those locations. Dominant racial ideologies with origins in the 18th and 19th Centuries suggest that each group is best suited to one particular landscape and economic activity: the Creole are either urban dwellers or backwoodsmen in the swampy bits of central Belize; the Garifuna mobile fishermen in small coastal villages in Southern Belize; the Maya subsistence farm in out of the way corners in the most remote parts of Southern Belize, and the Mestizo are cane farmers in the north (Wilk & Chapin, 1989; Bolland, 1977; Shoman, 1994). In this article, I argue that specific ideas about relationships to the natural environment have been a part of the racial formation of Creole and Garifuna identities. Furthermore, these racial formations have also literally shaped the environment, by limiting what was possible for certain groups to do in certain places, and therefore encouraging particular patterns of landscape use in the colony.
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Johnson, M. A. E. b. J. W. (2005). “Racing Nature and Naturalizing Race of Creole and Garifuna Communities ” Belizean Studies 27 No.2