Garifuna Women in the Belizean Women's Movement
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Series/Report no.:Ohio State University. Undergraduate Research Festival. 2020 Autumn.
In this study, I examine the efforts of women in Belize's Garifuna indigenous group to negotiate and transform cultural politics in relation to race, class, and gender as organizers and participants in the Belizean women's movement from the late 1970s through 1990s and today. To this general aim, I have developed two subprojects. First, I am working with a group of Garifuna women forming the Sandy Beach Women's Cooperative, the first women's cooperative in Belize, who have thrived since the 1980s and are still fighting to maintain their status and cultural heritage. The Sandy Beach Women's Cooperative is currently facing difficulties from the rapid growth of the tourism industry in their hometown of Hopkins, and now seeks to assert their right to their land and preserve their cultural heritage through the creation of a local museum. The museum will include content about the history of the women's cooperative, Garifuna cultural history and artifacts, as well as an exhibit on the life and work of famous Garifuna musician Andy Palacio, who recorded his album Wátina at Sandy Beach. The creation of the museum requires the women to negotiate various sources of funding and make decisions about what content to include in the museum to both portray their desired message and survive as a successful tourist attraction. The second subproject involves chronicling the life of Cynthia Ellis, a Garifuna woman and one of the leaders in the Belizean women's movement, through her journey as an academic, a United Nations representative, and a grassroots organizer working to negotiate the causes and projects of everyday life in Belize and the funding of liberal feminist organizations in the United States and Canada. The lives and legacies of the women in the two subprojects shed light on the successes of the Belizean women's movement in creating opportunities for black, indigenous women to gain support and funding for their own initiatives, as well as the failure of the movement to maintain momentum and support for women today as it became increasingly de-radicalized and institutionalized.
Academic Major: Geography
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