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Land Grab

Green Neoliberalism, Gender, and Garifuna Resistance in Honduras

Keri Vacanti Brondo

Publication Year: 2013

Land Grab is a rich ethnographic account of the relationship between identity politics, neoliberal development policy, and rights to resource management in Garifuna communities on the north coast of Honduras, before and after the 2009 coup d’état. The Garifuna are a people of African and Amerindian descent who were exiled to Honduras from the British colony of St. Vincent in 1797 and have long suffered from racial and cultural marginalization.

Employing approaches from feminist political ecology, critical race studies, and ethnic studies,Keri Vacanti Brondo illuminates three contemporary development paradoxes in Honduras: the recognition of the rights of indigenous people at the same time as Garifuna are being displaced in the name of development; the privileging of foreign research tourists in projects that promote ecotourism but result in restricting Garifuna from traditional livelihoods; and the contradictions in Garifuna land-rights claims based on native status when mestizos are reserving rights to resources as natives themselves.
Brondo’s book asks a larger question: can “freedom,” understood as well-being, be achieved under the structures of neoliberalism? Grounding this question in the context of Garifuna relationships to territorial control and self-determination, the author explores the “reregulation” of Garifuna land; “neoliberal conservation” strategies like ecotourism, research tourism, and“voluntourism;” the significant issue of who controls access to property and natural resources; and the rights of women, who have been harshly impacted by “development.” In her conclusion, Brondo points to hopeful signs in the emergence of transnational indigenous, environmental, and feminist organizations.

Published by: University of Arizona Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xiv

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Introduction: Death and a (Land?) Motive

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pp. 1-18

We woke up that morning as any other morning in our temporary home, a two-room rental just outside of the official borders of Sambo Creek, a Garifuna community 20 kilometers outside the city of La Ceiba. Our home was one of the growing number of hotel/restaurants that cater to tourists, wellto- do beach day trippers from the city of La Ceiba, foreign and national...

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1. Identity, Labor, and the Banana Economy

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pp. 19-34

Identity, power, and control of resources are intimately related. This statement crystallizes as the next few chapters tell the story of the Garifuna’s diminishing control over coastal territories as the region and its natural resources became increasingly coveted by those with social, economic, and political power....

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2. Development and Territorialization on the North Coast

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pp. 35-53

This chapter provides an account of changing political-economic structures in Honduras and on the north coast from the 1950s to the 1990s, and their relationship to developments in Garifuna activism. In the 1950s the organized labor movement changed from an antiblack movement to one that explicitly addressed racial discrimination against blacks. This ...

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3. Mestizo Irregularities, Garifuna Displacement, and the Emergence of a “Mixed” Garifuna Community

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pp. 54-72

Sambo Creek is located on the north coast of Honduras, 20 kilometers west of La Ceiba. Sambeños trace their community’s foundation to 1862. According to local narrative, the first Garifuna families arrived by boat, originating from the communities of Guadalupe and Santa Fe in the department of Colon, stopping first in the Cayos Cochinos, and then arriving...

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4. Gendered Rights and Responsibilities: Privatization and Women’s Land Loss in Sambo Creek

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pp. 73-89

The processes of territorialization are often gendered. Not only are new (attractive) values assigned to previously untradable goods, thus bringing in new market-oriented actors to the coast, but women are assigned different values in their own communities. In Sambo Creek, the reregulation of land has meant that women’s responsibilities and relationships to territory are ...

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5. Representing the Garifuna: Development, Territory, Indigeneity, and Gendered Activism

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pp. 90-114

Indigenous rights is arguably the most valuable rights-based discourse in the Garifuna struggle for territories. Yet, curiously, while an assertion of indigenous rights increases the ability of ethnic activists to influence state and international policies, only one of the two principal Garifuna organizations embraces these rights discourses. This chapter takes up the differences ...

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6. Roots, Rights, and Belonging in Sambo Creek

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pp. 115-128

Identity formation involves the creation of subjects through discourse. Discourse refers to the practices that create the conceptual frameworks that inform people’s thoughts, words, and actions. The production of discourse happens through systems of control and rules of exclusion and inclusion (Foucault 1973). Chapter 1 revealed how coastal and foreign elites had...

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7. “Businessmen Disguised as Environmentalists”: Neoliberal Conservation in Garifuna Territory

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pp. 129-152

In OFRANEH’s communiqués from the summer and fall of 2011, activists called attention to the global spread of protected areas, hybrid environmental governance (management by NGOs), links between protected area growth and the tourism economy, and the expulsion/displacement of local populations in the wake of these movements. As OFRANEH indicates,...

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8. Research Voluntourism as Rights-Based Conservation: Could It Work?

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pp. 153-167

In 2010, when Natalie Bown and I were working on our article “Neoliberal Conservation, Garifuna Territorial Rights and Resource Management in the Cayos Cochinos Marine Protected Area” (Brondo and Bown 2011), we reported that the social activism of Garifuna as indigenous peoples played a role in restructuring the CCMPA management plan to be more...

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9. Neoliberalism’s Limit Points in Post-Coup Honduras

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pp. 168-188

In 2009 the Honduran military orchestrated a coup d’état to depose President Manuel Zelaya. An enormous resistance movement emerged, at the core of which were the nation’s indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples, women, labor parties, and other popular groups. Widespread international condemnation of the coup accompanied the strong and growing grassroots ...

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Conclusion: Counterpunches to “Honduras Is Open for Business”

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pp. 189-200

Zita, a friend from Sambo Creek, my husband, Daniel, and I took a colectivo (shared taxi) from Sambo Creek to La Ceiba one afternoon in the summer of 2011 to meet up with Miriam Miranda. It was going to be the first time in over five years that I would see Miriam. We exited the taxi and Zita and I made our way into the building while my husband went for a ...


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pp. 201-206


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pp. 207-226


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pp. 227-232

About the Author

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pp. 233-233

E-ISBN-13: 9780816599981
E-ISBN-10: 081659998X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816530212
Print-ISBN-10: 0816530211

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 5 tables, 16 photos, 2 maps
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 841912512
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Land Grab

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Garifuna (Caribbean people) -- Land tenure -- Honduras.
  • Garifuna (Caribbean people -- Honduras -- Government relations.
  • Garifuna (Caribbean people) -- Cultural assimilation -- Honduras.
  • Garifuna women -- Honduras -- Social conditions.
  • Garifuna women -- Honduras -- Economic conditions.
  • Honduras -- Ethnic relations.
  • Honduras -- Politics and government.
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