Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



The Garinagu, who are commonly referred to by the name of their language, Garifuna, emerged out of the historical geographical processes of colonialism and capitalism on Saint Vincent Island in the Lesser Antilles. Exiled by the British to New Spain’s Captaincy General of Guatemala in 1797, the Garinagu formed communities and cultural bonds to the land, namely, but not exclusively, along the north coast of the territory that would become part of the Honduran nation-state in 1821. Today, the Garinagu are rapidly becoming a landless population. Since the mid-1970s, the Honduran government has pursued the expansion of tourism on the north coast against the Garinagu’s opposition. By the early 1990s, the Honduran government and oligarchs expanded cattle ranching and palm oil monoculture plantations into the area. Using critical ethnography, I chart the contradictions created under capitalism by the state and elite-led socio-economic reproduction of Honduras’ north coast. I apply geographical concepts of place, race, and the politics of identity to show that place is a repository of tensions, conflicts, and practices since it is in place that human form social relations (e.g. class, gender, race, identities). These concepts help to explain the fragmentation of the Garinagu from a self-sustaining and closely bonded communal society into a fragmented and landless society. I refer to the Garinagu in this manner because the new state and elite-shaped social relations on Honduras’ north coast and the cultural values assimilated from the Garinagu migration to the United States have undoubtedly transformed the Garifuna society’s relationship with place. My central research question asks: how has the Honduran government’s ideology of economic development and the global economic forces fragmented the Garifuna society? I investigate the economic policies implemented by the Honduran government which are connected to global economic forces and political economy to illustrate how the Garinagu’s historical land struggle and the construction of race have shaped their experience, identity, and relationship with place. Moreover, I analyze how the Garifuna leaders and the Garinagu in general have responded to these economic and political forces. In sum, my analysis adds to the examination of the Garinagu’s cultural politics and state-sponsored violence that has historically accompanied economic development in Honduras.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Jackson, Joyce