By Sarah England
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Extra resources for Afro-Central Americans in New York City: Garifuna Tales of Transnational Movements in Racialized Space
Through transnational migration and the experience of diaspora, Garifuna have created forms of community that in many ways allow them to transcend national contexts. At the same time there are also circumstances that vary by national context, circumstances that have a significant impact on the forms identity, power relations, and social movements take. Therefore, it is important here to give a brief introduction to those national contexts. Because my research is concerned primarily with Honduran Garifuna, I will concentrate on the particular place of Garifuna in Honduras and New York City.
During my fieldwork period, I often heard Garifuna use the terms imprecisely and interchangeably, referring to themselves variously as an ethnic group, as a race, and as a nation. In some ways I wish to maintain this ambiguity because it reveals a great deal about how racial, ethnic, and national identities are mobilized in different moments to both include and exclude others in the formation of a notion of peoplehood. This will come out mainly in the chapters in which I discuss how Garifuna activists use the terms.
Vincent, continued through the era of seasonal internal migration in Central America in the 1800s and early 1900s, and has been translated into transnational migration since the 1950s (Beaucage 1970; Gonzalez 1988; Helms 1981; Kerns 1983). Studies show that for most of Garifuna history, labor migration was not motivated by absolute poverty but was rather used as a means of obtaining industrial goods to supplement an otherwise adequate subsistence economy. Since the 1980s, however, neoliberal economic reform in Central American countries has produced an increasingly uneven distribution of land, high unemployment, and a higher cost of living, leading to the increasing dependence of many Central American households on foreign remittances.